Elliott, Robert and Downey, Robert

World War II Memories

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, Dec. 2002

C: Bob Elliott, do you want to tell us where you were during WW. II, what outfit you were with, where you were working and so on?

E. I was with the 355th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Division till the end of the war, and I was there for part of the occupation until I came home. I was with Company F of the 18th Division.

C: How long were you in Europe?

E: I was there for fourteen months. I was in combat about six weeks, was all I was in combat. I had already been in the service two years before I went overseas and I went in as a replacement. So in actual combat I was there about six weeks, not any longer, and that was long enough! (laughs)

C: You were lucky you didn’t have to be in any longer. Mr. Downey would you follow suit please?

D: I was drafted in April of ’42 and I was assigned to 319th Bomb Group, 439th Bomb Squadron, which was a medium-uh-had B26’s and we went overseas in September of the same year, so actually I went overseas without ever having basic training but-a-we landed in England and then we went on to the invasion of Africa in November of 1942. I was there until January of 1945 when they came back with the idea of regrouping and going to Japan. Then I was transferred out of Columbia, South Carolina just before they left for Japan and that was in-uh-July of 1945.

C. That was a long session you had there, wasn’t it. Bet you were glad to get home, huh?

D. Yes! So most of my experience in the service was overseas. I felt fortunate to be–the invasion of Africa was the first offensive of WWII but it was the easiest. I found out I was fortunate that I didn’t have to be in the invasion of the really rough (. . . . Static)

E. The outfit I was in, Company F was kind of like a cleanup company. We would go in while the battle was still going on and–in house-to-house combat we’d go in and try to clean out snipers and make a sweep of the stragglers and uh–after we’d get going through a town we’d pick out a house we were gonna stay in. We’d give them about five minutes to get out and then we’d stay in the house overnight and .. We didn’t sleep on the ground too many nights. Usually we had a spot picked and maybe we’d stay in the house two or three days. We’d go out on night on patrols which I hated with a passion because you couldn’t see anything. This one town we were going through taking the town and a lady came running . . . They had to turn in all their weapons: knives with blades 6″ or longer, all guns and cameras. This lady came out and-uh it was a fold-up camera, (I still have it) and handed it to me. I just stuck it in my pocket. I didn’t even look at it; I didn’t have time. The German people were very neat and clean. You could be fighting and two blocks away they’d be out sweeping the streets and getting everything back in order. But-a-she handed me this camera and I stuck it in my pocket and-uh-about two weeks later we took one of the companies that relieved the Dachau Prison Camp in Czechoslovakia. A lot of people heard about Dachau. We were one of the first units in there. The 101st Airborne were there about three or four hours before we got there.

C. Sickening, I’ll bet.

E. It was very sickening. The odor, the smell of burning and-uh-what they tried to do, they had a lot of these dead bodies in freight cars and so when they knew we were coming they just try to burn them and they also had open pits where they tried to burn the bodies. I had this camera with me. I took it out and sure enough it had film in it, so I took some pictures which I have and various times when I give a talk I pass the pictures around. We’ve had people right there in Germany say, 50 miles from Dachau, say it never happened, these camps never happened but I have the sure proof they did.

C. Was there any film in that camera, of pictures that she had already taken?

E. No, it was a brand-new roll. There were 16 pictures on it. It was a 6-20 film which they don’t make anymore.

C: Did you ever find out why she gave you the camera?

E. Well, they had to turn them in. Had to turn them in to the Mayor’s office, they called him the Burgomaster of the town. So she saw me and she handed it to me. So I prize that very highly.

C. I’d like to see those pictures sometime.

E. It’s something you never forget. Betty, other members of my family, I never talked about it for over 20 years after I was home. I never talked to anybody about it until, probably 5 or 6 years ago I gave a talk in Mr. Snoad’s history class, and it’s still hard to talk about it.

C. I’ll bet it was in your emotions, then, very strongly, if you couldn’t talk about it?

E. Actually it seemed more like it hit me more after it was over, you know. It-uh-at the time you’re so busy you don’t have time to think about it until after it was over and you have time to stop and think. I just couldn’t talk about it, and even here, things’d come on TV and I’d have to get up and leave the room. I just couldn’t watch it. Since that opening the first time, since I talked in Mr. Snoad’s history class it has come more easily and the more I talk about it now–I guess it’s good therapy because the more I talk about it now it’s easier to talk about. Uh–there was a lot of funny things that happened. The only clothes I had was what I went into combat with and they took us up into a woods and they said, “Your outfit’s there in that woods.” There was about 100 yards across an open field to a woods and it was just turning dark and I started across there and of course they halted me for the password and-uh when I got there–

C. Did you know the password?

E. (laughs) You had to know it or you were dead in your tracks! So I gave the password and-uh-the guy they assigned me to had been a prisoner of Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas and the only reason he was there was that he had agreed to sign a paper that he would go into combat so-uh-he was in for murder. He was my partner, and what a guy to have because he watched my back. He was great! The first thing they did, when they gave us all ammunition; they were all tracer bullets, eight rounds of tracer bullets and a rifle. When he saw that he said, “Hell, you don’t want those.” And he threw ’em out and gave me a clip out of his ammunition because normally every third bullet is a tracer bullet to show you where you’re aiming but it also tells the enemy where you are. So every time you would shoot you would roll either right or left or moved so they could zero in on that spot, you could see if you had any tracer bullets they knew where you were all the time. But-uh-he was my partner all until the end of the war.

C. Was he a pretty nice guy?

E. He was a nice guy but tougher than nails. He didn’t take any crap from anybody (laughs). But I was fortunate to have him because he really looked out for me. This one house we went into–like I say we didn’t have any change of clothes, we were scruffy and dirty. My underwear could stand by itself. So we were goin’ through the drawers and I found this pair of silk panties, they were women’s but I, being small, I put ’em on, and I had to stand a lot of raspberries about that, but they were clean and they felt good.(laughs)

C. I’ll bet! I’d kinda like to know what outfit–what General was in charge of your group?

E. I was in General Patton’s Third Army.

C. Really?

E. Most of the time. He moved so fast that sometimes we would get into another area and be in another army territory. I never saw the man. I heard a lot of stories about him but I never saw him.

C. That was after the Battle of the Bulge probably.

E. Yes. I came in just after–just after that. I got in just about a week before they crossed the Rhine River and-uh–we crossed the Rhine River in a little town called Weitzel about 2, 2:30 in the morning, assault boats, pretty heavy fire. That was my second baptism of heavy fire. Like I say, my first one was when I met up with my outfit we had heavy fire from mortars, mostly mortars, and-uh one of the tricks the Germans would pull, they had these heavy 88mm tanks and they would shoot at one man if they thought it was necessary but mostly if you went down, if you were walking down the road in the forest path they would be zeroed in on that and they’d fire right down that road or path with their tank guns, and if you jumped into the ditch on either side they had those mined.

C. Wow! So you had to make a decision on what was the best way to go.

C. What did you do then? You must have gotten out of it. You’re here.

E. Well, I was lucky. The first night in combat we lost 22 out of my contingent of 33 guys we lost 22, either wounded or killed. I think we had 11 killed. Company F, nothin’ to be proud of, but we had the highest casualty rate in the Division. And I heard that when I was assigned to that group. They said, “Where ya goin’?” I said, “Company F.” They said, “Oh oh, they got the highest casualty rate in the Division” which I understand now because we did. Our platoon didn’t have a Lieutenant. He was killed about the first or second day in combat and the Platoon Sergeant, they made him, gave him a field commission. He didn’t want it, wouldn’t take it, so we didn’t have an officer until the war was over and uh–it was a couple or three days before the war was over and a Lieutenant came in. He was smart. He just said, “You guys have been through this. I’m just new here. I’ll just watch.” So the Sergeant kept right on callin’ the shots and the Lieutenant didn’t interfere at all. . . like I say, he just went along for the ride.

C. It would almost have to be that way, I would think.

E. Yeah. He had no idea what combat was all about. He was a 90-day wonder.

C. Ed Winzeler was one of those 90-day wonders. He went to Yale for 90 days, and came out a Lieutenant. He ended up in China in charge of a radio outfit. He said, “I didn’t know anything about radios–zilch.” But there was a fellow–I guess he was a Sergeant there, might have been a Private–that really knew radios. Ed said, “I just gave him free rein.” But he’d go AWOL every once in a while and Ed said, “When he’d come back I’d let him back in and not say anything because he was so valuable.”

E. We were the same way. I was a Noncom myself. You know our officers and our Non-coms, I was a Non-com myself; we didn’t wear any stripes, didn’t wear any bars, or insignias and we were clean. We called everybody by their first name. We didn’t-uh–because the snipers loved to pick off the officers and the Noncoms. They went for those first–they actually went for the officers first–and so there was no insignia, no stripes or bars or any of that stuff on the officers or sergeants or anything. Everybody was clean, you didn’t have any insignia on you. And so in your own little group you’re pretty intimate so you know everybody by their first name, especially in your squad where you’ve got about eight, ten–a full squad’s about 11 or 12 guys. We never had a full squad. The most we ever got was about 10 but in a squad and in that platoon you knew everybody by their first name. And a medic was with you. If you needed a medic you didn’t call for a medic, you called him by his first name because that way the enemy didn’t know you were wounded. They’d love to know that too and so-uh-these are the things that I learned real quick. I was in with some veteran fighters then and the nice part about it was they took me right in, showed me the ropes, the do’s and don’ts, and that’s why I’m here. They were really great. And after the war we went down to Lintz, Austria and I was there in a prison camp. I guarded prisoners and-uh I had my own valet, an SS trooper, called Max, can’t tell you what his last name was but he shaved me, he washed my clothes, he did all the cleaning in my bunk. He was Al; he never caused me any trouble. He knew his place.

C. Could he speak English?

E. He could speak English, and I learned German quite a bit from him, I did, and I was with him for about nine months and we got along real good. One night my buddy and I was out on post and we took–this was when the war was winding down to an end and we took about 50 prisoners. We didn’t take ’em, they came to us ’cause there was just two of us and about 50 of them so if they wanted to they coulda cleaned our clock but they were giving up and the one fella could speak fluent English. I mean you wouldn’t know he was German ’cause most of the Germans, they pronounced their w’s like a v, but he didn’t even have that accent and I said, “well where did you learn to speak English?” He said, I was goin’ to school in St. Paul, Minnesota and he says “I came back home to visit my parents and they conscripted me in the German army.” And he gave me his pistol which I have upstairs and have had ever since then and-uh- but he could speak English better than a lot of people that know English. (laughs)

It was interesting. One time I was up on a hill lookin’ at some troops movin’ down in the valley. Somebody kicked me in the heels; I whirled around and there was this little old man, probably about the age I am now, (laughs) said, “I’ve been an American citizen longer’n you have.”

I said, “Yeah?” He said “I lived in United States 33 years.”

I said, “Where?”

He said, “Pennsylvania. I worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh.” And again, he could speak perfect English. Funny how those things happen. Y’know, you don’t think about that. A lot of funny things happen. You don’t like to remember the bad stuff. One night we were out on patrol and we got word that there was Germans in a coal mine–SS troopers were in a coal mine–so we went into this coal mine. It was black as night. So we opened this door, threw in about three hand grenades, two or three. It was a room–oh I don’t know, maybe 40 x 60 or something like that and-uh-we rushed in there and there was one little old guy hunched up, sittin’ in a corner all hunched up. But there wasn’t a scratch on him. The bomb went off but never hit him. There wasn’t anyone else in there, he was the only one in there.

C. Nobody else in there?

E. Nobody.

C. I’ll bet you were kinda glad. (laughs)

E. To be honest with you our intelligence wasn’t too good. You know they talk about intelligence on TV, right? I can’t remember a time when they were right. I don’t know why but we kinda always took things with tongue in cheek when we heard something because about nine times out of ten it wasn’t true. Such as that case right there. The one town we went into supposedly had been–see when we took a town the residents were supposed to hang bed sheets out their windows so you knew it had been taken, it wasn’t German occupied. We went into this town with the sheets hangin’ out and we was told that already it had been taken. We got right in the middle of it and all hell broke loose. Y’know they just baited us in there and then opened fire. In the same way one of the warehouses got broken into and they stole all the Army overcoats–the Germans did. And so we immediately had to throw away all our overcoats ‘cause we didn’t know who was wearing what.

C. Oh, they’d be wearing them?

E. (laughs) They’d infiltrate your lines and so we had to throw away all our overcoats, which was ridiculous but that’s the way it had to be.

C. Was it cold?

E. It was cold. It was in March.

C. Pretty cold.

E. But, like I say, we were pretty fortunate. I could probably count on a hand the number of nights that I slept on the ground or in a fox hole. Most of the time we were fortunate enough to be in a barn or, at least in a barn or most of the time maybe in a house. So we always had three or four outposts around to protect ya. It was-uh–it was an experience I won’t ever forget but-uh– I enjoyed the comradeship. I have never talked to anyone that I was with since I left. I got out in April of ’46 and I have not contacted anyone that I was with at all. Two of my best buddies–one was from White River Junction, Vermont and the other was from Columbia, South Carolina. I never talked to either one of them after I got out.

C. Now Bob’s experience was sort of like that except after the war you met several of you old buddies, didn’t you?

D. We’ve had reunions about-uh–for twenty, close to thirty years. We’ve had annual reunions. And I still meet–uh–I haven’t been to one for about three years but when they’re in the area I’ve gone to a reunion every five years or so and there’s still 8 or 10 people that show up. We reminisce and of course our experience in the Air Corps was altogether different. We were in Sardinia for a year and we were in Africa for a year and then we were in Corsica for about three months but were stable because our bombers would go out a 250 mile range and then come back so that we weren’t under fire. And-uh–these, the ones that were in combat on the plane, they would get their missions in and go home. But our basic group was together the whole time that I was there so we had a stable relationship as far as the ground troops. There was probably 10 or 12 that had been rotated out but other than that. When we went over that they wanted to have a pool and I said, “I’ll bet on most anything but I won’t bet on that.” They said “Why?” I said, “We could be over here for two Christmases.” They were about ready to throw me off the boat. We were on our way to Africa, and they thought that in three months it’d be over with, six months it’d be over.”

C. I remember back home we were singin’ “I’ll be with you in apple-blossom time.” (sings it) Because we thought by spring–everybody here thought that it’d be over. What was your job in Africa, Bob?

D. Well I went in and, like I said, I didn’t have the basic training and I got into this outfit and the commanding officer, he looked at me and I was too big to be a tail gunner and I wore glasses and-uh-he lost interest in me and he said, “Well what do you want to do?” And I said, “Well, I want to transfer.” (laughs) I had an opportunity–I was in Barksdale–I had an opportunity to go into finance, in bookkeeping and this guy that had the finance department there didn’t have any experience and I was in the replacement pool at that time But in the meantime I got in this 439th Squadron at Camp Tuttle wasn’t interested in me and he assigned me first to Supply and then the Mail Orderly died within a week or two so when we went overseas I became the Mail Orderly, of course in the Orderly Room.

C. The other one wasn’t killed, was he?

D. No. He actually died of alcoholism. So–uh–I was in Administration. I did the Morning Report and the Sick book, took care of the mail for about 14 months. One day the Commanding Officer called me in and said, “Downey, how many times have you been acting as First Sergeant?” I said, “Oh about six or seven times.”

He said, “Well, would you like the job?”

I said, “Well, it hasn’t been too kind to my predecessor.” (laughs)

He said, “Will you take it?” And I said, “Yes sir.” So I became First Sergeant of this outfit and I stayed that for another 14 months.

C. That meant a nice jump in pay didn’t it?

D. (laughs) I went from Staff Sergeant to First Sergeant in one promotion, but money didn’t mean anything to you. You couldn’t spend it for anything. Money was worthless. There was nothing to buy in town. You just couldn’t think any of what the money would do for you.

C. I know, when we were married Ed Winzeler was making-uh-$37 a month and he’d just gotten a raise in pay because he went from plain Private to Private First Class, but he was getting $37 a month.

E. I was a Buck Sergeant and I got $78.

C. Which was pretty good in those days.

E. Well, I got $78 plus Betty got. . .What was your allotment, Betty? I think it was $50.

D. It was $22. You put in $22 and she got $28.

E. That’s right.

D. I got $28 and had to put in $28.

Betty (Elliott’s wife). Plus when he was in the States I got to go see him in California, Washington and Oregon and I had more money when I went out than when I got (laughs) and was paid. When it ended up we just had a thousand dollars saved.

C. Well I was under the impression that you were in the Quartermaster. Were you?

D. No, 1 wasn’t.

C. Would you tell about the time when you were in the railroad cars?

D. We were-uh-when we first landed we didn’t have pup tents. We slept basically out in the open from November until about-uh-January-uh-February of ’43. And then we were-uh-we went from the edge of Tunisia back to Casablanca area to regroup and get re-equipped and that’s when we got our first tents and-uh-actually the one squadron that went out on the invasion of Africa was in the hold of the ship and the guys were worried because none of them had any side arms. This Captain comes down and he says, “I hear you-all are worried because you don’t have any side arms,” he said, “We don’t anticipate any opposition but if we do there’ll be plenty of stiffs on the beach for you guys to pick up their guns and go on.” But then luckily we didn’t have to when we landed. We went over the side of the boat and in the landing craft and on to the beach and we got in without opposition so, where we were there was some opposition over towards Tunisia and we landed at St. Lou which is outside of Algiers and luckily we didn’t have any opposition because we weren’t trained, we weren’t equipped and we weren’t ready to fight. (laughs)

C. You didn’t even have basic training, you said.

D. No. We picked up 33 men at Fort Dix, New Jersey just before we left. One guy said, “I haven’t been out of sight of my home ever since I’ve been in the service.” We could see his home over on the hill and he’d been in the service two weeks and overseas he went. (laughs) Of course that was only about 10% of the men in our group. We had 360 men in our Squadron.

C. Did you go over on a troop ship?

D. Well I went over on the Queen Mary to England, and we went from there on what they called ‘The Lucky Moon,’ which was one of the bigger ships in the fleet. Some days we could look out and see 12 or 15 ships and other days there’d be 65 or 70 ships around us to protect us. It took us 18 days to get from England to Africa.

C. Did you have to take zig-zag courses to avoid subs?

D. No. Yes. We were just bobbin’ around the Atlantic, back and forth. Actually it was about a three-day trip if they went straight through but we were out there about 18 days while they were assembling this group of forces to-uh–of course with us being in the Air Corps we weren’t the first ones off the boat. There were the Signal Corps and they were assembling the people that were more actively trained and they were the first ones off the boat so—

C. That was when?

D. That was in November, 1942.

D. But we had one thing to consider. We had a good reputation as far as our success in bombing and-uh-like what Bob said, we were told for two weeks on what they were going to do in Anzio, a major operation in Italy and I thought, “This is the dumbest thing that I ever heard, to be out in a theater and have a guy explain what our job was going to be two weeks before it happened. All these people were standing around and they could be enemies. And of course when they went into Anzio everything was just as they said, except that they didn’t go far enough and their original surge wasn’t great enough. They were pinned on the beach for about six weeks and there was a slaughter for . . .and f course I wasn’t involved except we were bombing the people that were fighting against them but Anzio was a disaster as far as well-planned invasion. It still makes me sick to think of the useless waste of troops that was caused by just plain inefficiency.

C. Bob Elliott, how about your trip across? What was it like when you first went across?

E. I got on the ship in New York Harbor, Pier 88. There was 15000 of us on the ship. We went by the Statue of Liberty at about 3 o’clock at in the morning and it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. There was 15,000 guys on board. It was quiet cause everybody knew this might be out last time here.

C. This was in when, did you say?

E. This was in ’45, February of ’45 and we went south along the Carolinas, picked up some ships, then we went east for a little ways, then back up and we actually ended up in the North Sea before we went overseas. I don’t know how many ships were in the convoy but about three days at sea we got into a bad storm. We were down on E deck so we were lucky because we didn’t get much of this roll in the storm but we had troops in there from the French Martinique and every night they played the voodoo drums and the fife. It’d make chills run up and down your back. The only guy in that group that could speak English was their Commander. They couldn’t speak a bit of English but they sang all these songs and everything. But-a-when the storm was over right next to us had been a tanker with aircraft lashed to the deck and when the storm was over they were all gone. It washed them overboard.

C. Really! It must have been a really bad storm.

E. It was a bad storm, one of the worst they said they’d ever had and the North Sea has some bad ones, I guess. Then just a day and a half or so outside of England sometime during the night we had a submarine attack, or they thought it was gonna be and they wanted everybody up on deck. We were way down on E deck. I’d never have made it if it had actually been an attack but luckily it was a false alarm.

C. What’d you do, have steps going up or something?

E. Yeah, yeah.

C. Sort of like a ladder?

E. Exactly. It was a converted civilian. It may have been a cruise ship at one time back then, I don’t know, but for the john they had about a 60 ft. long with holes in it and water running through it. And the guys (laughs) would take two or three wads of paper and light ’em and it would run right down and you could see the guys poppin’ up all along. (laughs) We landed in Le Harvre, France, and the harbor was already plugged with ships, sunken ships, cause the war’d been going on and we had to go in in landing craft, get off the ship and go, and I went into this building or something to go to the bathroom (it was a public bathroom) and I was going to the bathroom here and a French lady came up and sat right down next to me. Y’know, they don’t think anything of that. After the war in Paris the public bathroom they had a trough that ran right out into the gutters and all they had was about a six-foot high screen around it. Anybody on the second floor could look right down and see in there.

C. And you could see people’s feet under the screen.

E. Oh yeah. And in the taverns they didn’t have a john. They had a–in the corner they had a bar across the corner with a hole in the floor and you sat on that bar to go to the bathroom. Y’know how they talk about how Paris is one of the elite places, but it was a dirty, filthy place. The French people were about the dirtiest I’ve ever seen, just the complete opposite of the Germans who were neat as a pin, y’know, but-a‑

C. I remember when I was in the Eiffel Tower, ‘course this was years and years later, and they had Men and Women doors not too far apart. So I walked in and it was all one room!

E. That’s right. Coeducational. (laughs) But we were on board about a month. C. You were? You didn’t stop in England, then?

E. No, we bypassed England, went right for Le Harve, France, and I went right from there into a combat zone.

C. Had you had training in United States?

E. I had some. I was drafted and went to Camp Perry and I was there less than 24 hours when I was sent to Camp Grant, Illinois, which was a medical center, and because of having been a meat cutter they sent me to Cook and Bakers School. So I went to Cook and Bakers School at Camp Grant. The two chefs that had been my teachers, one had been the head chef at the Waldorf-Astoria and the other one had been the head chef at Sun Valley, Idaho, a ski resort, and so I had two good teachers.

C. So you really learned how to cook, huh?

E. I did, and from there I went to the 318 Station Hospital in Camp White, Oregon, and while we were there a bunch of us went out in the PX one night for a beer. I always wanted to fly, so we talk about the Air Cadets, they were lookin’ for pilots at that time, so we went to Portland, Oregon and took the exam and every one of us passed the physical and the written test. So we came back from there and went to Camp White and we were there about-uh-six weeks or two months, and we got called and we went to, I went to Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa. I went there for some pre-flight training, mostly it was Math and such, then I went back to Santa Ma, California for pre-flight school. My first flight training was at Los Palos, California, and I passed that and went into Basic, which was a much bigger plane, and I’m 5’4” and that was the minimum height for pilots, so I got into that and these bigger planes I’d get ’em into a spin and I couldn’t get it out because my legs weren’t long enough to reach the rudder to get ‘ern out of the spin and at that point we’d already–the European Theater was pretty much under our command in air supremacy and so they washed me out. In fact, the next class they didn’t even take ‘ern in. So I immediately (That’s when the Battle of the Bulge was on), ’cause I’d had infantry training in the Medical Corps they immediately sent me to Camp Howzie, Texas for the final infantry training, 13 weeks, and I went from there to Fort Mead, Maryland and from there I went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and from there overseas.

C. The service was, I’ll bet, was ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ thing came from.

E. Yep, a lot of it was, a lot of it was. But-uh-I had some good cook training and I cut meat at Camp White, Oregon for the hospital there. But-uh-I ended up being in the Infantry, and that was a different experience.

C. It was kind of a good thing you were, you know, sent from one place to another, because that’s when the heaviest fighting was . . . (laughs)

E. Yeah, I missed out on a lot of that luckily but like I say, I still had six weeks of it, which was enough.

D. More than enough.

E. (laughs) Yeah.

D. The fact that we were over there for so long, you know, we were there 18 months and nothin was happening, and all of a sudden, y’know, “Pretty soon we’re going to be going into Europe.” We were pretty lucky to be there where we were because of the time-uh-by that time the Germans we had practically no air combat. The planes we lost we lost by ack-ack and our losses–we lost more planes in accidents after that than we had in combat. But I had the unfortunate job, of–when somebody did get killed I had to go to their tent, pick up their personal stuff and get it shipped home. Had to sort it all out–what belonged to the army and what belonged to them personally and start it on its way back. But I knew everybody personally because of being the mailman–you were supposed to hand it to the individual so as far as acquaintances go, I had-a-well, the ground force would be about 280 out of 360 and the rest of them were combat. They would come and go as they got permission to go back home if they were fortunate enough to make it.

C. Were there many that got shot down?

D. No. We didn’t lose many in combat. We lost more in accidents actually. There would be in training flights and dumb things would happen and we had two planes collide in mid-air and another plane that crash-landed and a good friend of mine by the name of Nichols from Tennessee, he had been a ground man and he wanted to get married so he signed up for combat, and engineer, and he had his missions in. He came into the Orderly Room; he says, “Downey, I’m goin’on that–I want to get my air time in so I can get–” He was a Staff Sergeant so that meant about $65 for air time. I says, “Nick, you’re crazy! You’re goin’ home! Just wait. Your orders are on the way.” And he-uh, “No I wantta get my air time in, I wantta get my air time. I want to do it so I won’t have to do it when I get back to the States.” And he-uh went on this training flight with this new crew, and they no more than took off until they feathered a prop. They crash-landed and he was the only one killed on that landing. And it was almost simultaneous: this plane was taking off, the prop was being feathered (stopped) and they were trying to come back to land and here come the courier in the front gate. I could see the courier was in the jeep with his orders to go home. Since then I’ve always been a fatalist. If it’s going to happen it’ll happen. I was sick over that for a long time, ’cause he was a good buddy of mine. I begged him not to go but he never made it. There were a lot of funny experiences but there was also some tragic experiences. But you were together, so you were a family for about 30 months so because of that bond you’d know everybody.

C. Yeah, I’d imagine those’d be some pretty strong ties.

D. You had a lot of brothers.

C. Well, I still haven’t heard you tell–I think you should tell Bob Elliott about the time when they said–you had to travel from one town to another in Africa and they said you can go in a box car.

D. (laughs) We started to talk about that. We went from Tunisia back to Casablanca. It took us seven nights and six days that we were on so at the end of that seven nights and six days without baths or toilets, just bein’ on the railroad in the car. That’s where you survived. But we had prepared ourselves. We had storage for 45 gallons of wine in our boxcar and we replenished that along the way so that by the time we arrived at this little town outside of Casablanca we were pretty well burned out (laughs) and we were out in this marshalling yard and we had a pot of coffee and a-uh-Major came along and started to chew us out for having a fire and coffee out there. They looked up at him and they–after bein’ on this train for seven nights and six days we didn’t care whether the sun rose or not, you know. He couldn’t get anything out of us and he tried to call us to attention (laughs). Of course we didn’t have any stripes on either and he says, “Well are there any Non-Coms here?” In the Air Force there were no privates or PFC’s. The only ones that were Privates or PFC’s were the ones that had been demoted. There were Staff Sergeants, Tech Sergeants, (laughs) He just finally threw up his hands and left because he wasn’t gettin’ through to us at all. (laughs) But that was-uh-we went-uh-in a box car–when we would stop in a town where the train would take on water there would be a stack there and we would be in the middle of a town but we would be down to our shorts, in the shower with our shorts on, so it’s-uh-it was a pretty primitive life.

C. Do you remember any stories in particular, Bob?

E. Well, I’ve just about told you all of them. I do remember one when we were in Camp Howzie, Texas for our final infantry training they had us out on the rifle range and jackrabbits in Texas are big. They’re about like dogs. And we were out on the rifle range with about a hundred shooting at a time and-uh-these jackrabbits would jump up between the firing line and the targets. When one of those jackrabbits would jump up everybody’d zero in and start shooting at the jackrabbits and the range officer came on there and he was gonna court-martial us all and we thought, “Well he’s not gonna court-martial a hundred of us,” so we’d keep firing and when a rabbit’d either get hit or leave and we’d go back to shootin’ targets until another one’d show up and we’d go back to shootin’ at the rabbit again. I remember that. (laughs) Nothing ever came of it but-a-(laughs).

C. It’d be kinda hard to take it out on a hundred.

E. Yeah. When we came back we got out of Camp Atterbury and we had to turn in all of our equipment. This one fellow–I didn’t know him personally–but he had a helmet with him. It had been shot through from one side to the other. He kept it and they were trying to make him turn it in. And he was raising such a ruckus that finally one of the officers came out and wanted to know what was going on and they told him and he said, “Hey, let him have it. That’s a good souvenir.”

C. Might have belonged to a friend of his too.

E. No, it was his. It was actually his, but it went through, just creased his head. C. Just above it. Wow!

E. Yeah.

D. We had a–we had a fellow come into the orderly room one day and he had a little piece of jagged metal and he says, “Bob, d’ya wants see my purple heart?” And he had this piece of metal in his hand and he had a nick on his ear, and that shrapnel had gone through the plane and lodged in the framework of the airplane to where he was able to dig it out and he had this little nick on his ear. He was that close to bein’ eliminated but he called it his purple heart which (chuckles) he deserved.

C. Wow!

E. After the war was over I had blood poisoning. I had this streak going down my arm. I had a big kernel under the arm pit, and I went on sick call and sure enough I had a piece of shrapnel in this little finger here and-uh, you know, no bigger than a pin head but somehow I picked it up someplace and I don’t know how long it had been there.

C. And that gave you blood poisoning?

E. Yeah.

C. Boy, that makes me think Ed’s brother was pretty lucky. He was with General Patton and they were sleeping in a barn and the shrapnel came in and hit the barn and a beam fell right across his body. He lost both his legs and one arm. Then he had for years after that he had shrapnel in his system, and every once in a while little pieces working their way out. But for some reason he never had blood poisoning.

D. Well, Patton was in the invasion of Africa. His unit landed at Casablanca. They went all the way into Tunis without much opposition until– that was the time Rommel was going into Alexandria and Cairo and then he was stopped and he was retreating when we were–so that was about as close as–Cassarine Pass was about 75 miles from us and they tried to get us to organize into squads and platoons and when you’ve got a group of 300 men without training it was a circus to think of–we were diggin’ fox holes–but nothin’ ever came of it. Rommel was stopped before he got to where we were.

C. Is that the place where you were in so much mud? Was that Tunisia?

D. Well, when we landed they said it seldom rains in north Africa but we were out-uh-we had a chain gang loading airplanes. We had five-gallon cans loaded with gasoline passing from one to another loading. There was 250 gallon of gasoline in each airplane. They couldn’t get to the plane with the lines so we passed the gas from one to the next. It was at night and it was muddy and cold.

C. How come, it seldom rained, how come you had all that mud?

D. Well, it had rained cats and dogs.

// End of Tape //

Eggers, Henry

Charlotte Wangrin (CW) interviewing Henry Eggers (EG) for the Henry County Historical Society, November 2002

CW: Henry where and when your were born?

HE: Born in Freedom Township and March 20, 1910.

CW: Were you born on a kitchen table like a lot of other people were?

HE: I don’t know; people do say that, but I don’t think so. They did have trouble with me, I guess they almost lost me.

CW: You are the oldest.

HE: I have three sisters.

CW: What childhood memories do you have?

HE: Not too many. Maybe going to school because I had to walk a little more than 1/2 mile to school.

CW: One room school?

HE: Yes one room school.

CW: Where was the school?

HE: North of 18 and T. The teacher boarded at our house. She was a great teacher. The second grade teacher and the third grade teacher boarded at our house too.

CW: Was it still a one room school after it was remodeled?

HE: Oh yea. I’m not sure what it was before this. Furnace in one corner and chair that moved around. About 18 to 23 in school.

CW: How did two teachers operate in one room?

HE: There wasn’t two teachers, just one teacher. Mrs. Shiree taught one year in 1916, then Mrs. Tate followed her. They had recital benches while we listened to the teacher. Of course some of the ones in the back that were older listened too, when they should of been studying. But one thing about the old school system

[text omitted]. My daughter

Cindy went to Ridgeville in about 1962. Put her in 8th grade. Ask her about the discipline — they had no problems. Nowadays they have to talk to every one of them and they can’t handle it. Teacher the other day stopped by and said she had a bad day; not all days are bad. She can’t control her class; if they want to say something they just say it regardless. It’s hard to do anything.

CW: How did they discipline them differently back in those days?

HE: I suppose the parents, I think that’s where it came from. In those days if you got something from the school or the teacher didn’t think you did something right at school, they would report it to your parents. That’s the way it went through my whole eighth grade, through my high school years at Ridgeville Corners. I believe we had three teachers for the whole system. They built a new school in 1928, graduated in 1928. Spent over a year in a half at the old school. The church has brought it. It’s doing alright.

CW: Did you walk to school?

HE: Yea, and to Ridgeville too.

CW: That was quite a walk to school, too.

HE: It was 2 1/2 miles. I rode bicycle all I could when the weather allowed it. I rode for 4 years. The day I graduated I rode and I haven’t touched it for twenty years after that. Dr. Dell had an office in Ridgeville, oftentimes he would pick me up.

CW: He was a good fellow.

CW: Was there quite a bit of traffic on Route 6?

HE: No [portion omitted]. Well, at that time it was improved from here to Ridgeville, and improved by 1920 with hard stone; otherwise, before that it was just dry dirt and mud.

CW: So Route 6, was it always [portion omitted]?

HE: Almost always, it would be pretty bad if it wasn’t. As far as I know. What snow did, I don’t know. I guess they used at that time in the 20’s, though the auto was coming in and you didn’t use sleigh so much. I don’t think they did anyhow. But they would keep deep tracks in the spring [portion omitted] in the summer time they would grade those holes down somehow. Sometimes you would get dust. [portion omitted] They put some stone, as far as I know they could put, when they were charged to build that road they just put a hard layer of big stone about 2 inches in diameter. Like all roads I guess it held up pretty well. It’s been added to it all those times [portion omitted]. It’s kinda interesting. The man’s name was Stone who built the road. He was a contractor.

CW: Did you ever have anybody get stuck on this bend here, uh, on the ruts?

HE: Yes. [portion omitted] I had nothing to do with this job. I was only ten years old in 1920. And 15 in the 20’s. I never had to help anyone out there. I suppose the neighbors did. The other road down here was the same way down here toward town. Got real wet in the spring would get muddy and Dad would have to go down there and pull someone out. But I never had to help. Yes right here we had accidents in the nicest weather of the year. We would probably have an accident every week for a couple months. It was unbelievable, the accidents that you had here. One person was killed here. But one time in the winter time when I was eating breakfast, eating a meal here, I heard a noise and rushed and a truck came across those posts that hold up the guard-rails. You could hear the crushing, rolled over into the creek the creek was probably dry. They had to get him out. He was lucky he didn’t get hurt. The car didn’t get hurt too bad either. Someone else got in the creek one time too. One time we were getting ready for church on a Sunday morning and Vernon Norris came to the door, and said there is someone down here in a car that got off the road and maybe we have to call someone. I went and got adults and they called the sheriff out here. At that time [there was a] washout on this side of the road. [portion omitted] for a new top on that changed the course [portion omitted] and he drove off and he didn’t make the curve and I think it was the driver that was killed and the other man…

CW: I remember going with my mom and dad when I was a little girl on those roads that had deep ruts and Dad would drive along in a rut and all of sudden he would have to get out of the rut and there would be a big jolt to get out of that rut, and there were lots of flat tires I suppose, too.

HE: I imagine. I don’t know about the flat tires. they had a lot of flat tires all over those days. Along with that we had an accident that one time a car rolled over in the creek and just rolled over and I think it was 2-3 boys and a girl in the car and they were going fishing…

CW: Oh, you farmed then? Did you farm this farm?

HE: No. We didn’t buy this until 1943. Matthews lived here — George Matthews lived here…

CW : Where did you and Irma go when you got married?

HE: The next place down the house on the other side. Dad owned that, just the house on the south side of the road. There was a barn there too. We lived there seven years and than we moved over here. Another thing I was going to say about the road: 1964 they remodeled it and did a real job on it, land on each side of it, and made it wider. And since then I don’t think we have had over three accidents – a couple trucks slid off in an ice storm and just last winter something happened and someone wanted to go around him. I don’t know how bad that was. That was one of the major accidents that they had…

CW: [portion omitted]

HE: 1936 we were married. Pastor Cluster from Fostoria married us in his residence.

CW: Was Irma from Fostoria?

HE: Yea.

CW: How did you happen to meet her?

HE: We had neighbor who lived across the road from where we lived that moved up to Trenton, Michigan. And Irma’s brother died. He lived up there with that family. I wanted to go up there and visit and took another couple along, and we went up there and she happened to be there. The reason she was there is because her brother had passed away and the funeral was in Fostoria. At that time she was working in Cleveland and she came home for the funeral and these [portion omitted]. They adopted her and she kept the name Stanton. We were married in 1936 and she wasn’t a Lutheran and I was going to church out here in St. Paul out in the country and they hadn’t switched over to English yet. They were thinking about one thing or another.

CW: They were preaching in German?

HE: Yea. Still had services in German every Sunday in German, and once in a while some Sunday a month they had it at times in English. So that how we ended up at St. Emanuel.

CW: How I don’t get the connection. What’s the connection with the language with you going to Emanuel? Did she not know German?

HE: No she knew no German.

CW: Oh that was it.

HE: She would of had to learn it all in German. She could of gotten confirmed there though.

CW: At that time Emanuel was having services in English?

HE: Oh yes. Pastor was there a couple years or maybe he came the year before. Things moved right along after he came.

[porton omitted]

CW: Irma wasn’t an orphan? She was just adopted from a different family?

HE: She might have become a street orphan. Her mother passed away when she was nine years old, I believe, eight or nine. She had five sisters, several of them were married. These people could see she needed help. She did, and somehow they got permission to let her live with them awhile, and then they adopted her.

CW: That was quite common in those days to adopt a child.

HE: Yea.

CW: Sometimes if parents were very poor and couldn’t afford to feed a big family of children they would allow one or two to be adopted in different families.

//End//

Edminston, Eva Viola

Interviewed by unknown, date unknown.

Sex: Female
Race: Caucasian
Maiden Name: Warner
Spouse: Jim
Date of Marriage: Nov. 26, 1931
DOB: December 17, 1910
Place of Birth: Hancock County
Father: Charlie, Mother: Molly
Education: High school, Arcadia, OH, Graduated: 1930
Daughter: Phyllis Brookes, Son: James-deceased
Work Experience: Owned and operated Edmiston Dairy for 20 years. Collected Milk from area farmers, processed and bottled it.
Retired from: Marathon-House Keeping Dept., 1976
Church: Methodist
Organizations: Was in Pinochle Club at Marathon
Hobbies: Playing cards and watching TV

Interviewer: Can you tell me something about your childhood?

Eva: Something what?

Interviewer: Can you tell me something about your childhood?

Eva: I can’t understand what you are talking about.

Interviewer: Did you like school?

Eva: Yes, I guess I was the only one in family that did. There were 10 of us. My two brothers went into the service and the rest of them just… My hearing aid needs a new battery. It’s just about driving me nuts….hello nothing (laughs and takes out hearing aid). Just try to do what they tell me.

Interviewer: Do you watch TV? Do you watch Television?

Eva: Yea, when I don’t have anything else to do I just watch TV.

Interviewer: Where did you work when you were younger?

Eva: Not really long, I worked in the Marathon, and I worked on the 8th floor for 20 years. It was called house keeping, had so many rules to claim. I did that for 20 years.

Interviewer: We have the same birthday.

Eva: Well, what do you know! (laughs). I had four or five sisters. Let’s see, Helen Lois, Maxine and Lula, Lila and Nina, That’s five isn’t it. I had three Brothers. Does that come out to ten (laughs).

Interviewer: That’s eight. Are you one of the youngest?

Eva: No, I’m next to the oldest

Interviewer: Are your brothers younger then you then?

Eva: Yes.

Interviewer: Are your brothers still in the service?

Eva: No, the two that were in the service are deceased, and I just have the one brother now. He’s the youngest one and I have, let’ see, Alan and Ruth Maxine and Lula. I have five sisters deceased. Four sisters, and counting myself, and I’m still (laughs).

Eva: When I was married or afterwards or before?

Interviewer: Before.

Eva: We went to a lot of card games. We played a lot of cards. I belonged to a pinnacle club.

Interviewer: What where some of the things you did in the club?

Eva: Not much of anything. We just played cards, then lose your draw and go home (laughs).

Interviewer: When did you retire?

Eva: In, um, ‘76. I worked at marathon for 20 years.

Interviewer: Did you ever win any awards?

Eva: No response.

Interviewer: Where were you born?

Eva: Hancock County

Interviewer: What is your address?

Eva: I don’t think I know… 221. It’s another address out there. I don’t know. You can see it when you go out.

Interviewer: Have you always lived in Ohio?

Eva: Yea

Interviewer: Did you travel much?

Eva: Took one trip my husband and I took one trip to Florida and that’s about all.

Interviewer: What did you see down there?

Eva: What did I see?

Interviewer: Why did you go down there?

Eva: Just to go for a trip. Saw a lady that wanted to see, I don’t think we were there one or two days and then we came back home.

Interviewer: Was raising a farm difficult?

Eva: No, dad farmed. I dressed them and he sold them. I dressed 22 hundred chickens that year.

Interviewer: That’s a lot of chickens.

Eva: We went down to the Hyatt Regency and they wouldn’t let us go in; we had slacks on. We had put our coats on and they wouldn’t let us go through. There was men sitting in their sleeves and they didn’t want to see women with pants on (laugh).

Interviewer: What other places did you visit?

Eva: We went to the higher cabin (?). I didn’t get around much.

Interviewer: What kind of music did you listen to?

Eva: Oh, jazz. (laughs) Fast music.

Interviewer: Do you like to dance?

Eva: Well I never learned how. My husband knew, and when he met me, he never taught me. No-one ever taught me, so I never knew how. My daughter is a good dancer, but she goes to dances all the time, and that makes a difference.

Interviewer: Did you have a big wedding?

Eva: When I, no, we went to the justice of peace. I gave my daughter a big wedding. Interviewer: Did you have a good childhood?

Eva: Yea, it was pretty good. We had to work together. There were so many of us.

Interviewer: Was it hard for you to have so many brothers and sisters?

Eva: No, we got along fine; mother had three girls, she had, yea, that wore diapers at one time (laughs) at once.

Interviewer: Did you go through the depression?

Eva: did I what?

Interviewer: (Repeats question.)

Eva: Go through the depression? Yeah.

Interviewer: What was that like?

Eva: It was terrible. Mom had to bake bread and we didn’t know what it was to have a loaf of bread. Mother had to bake it. We didn’t have money to buy stuff. Dad was a tenant farmer. He only got so much money a month. Had to make it do.

Interviewer: Did you go to college?

Eva: My folks were too poor; they didn’t have money to send me.

Interviewer: What would you be if you did?

Eva: Well when I was in high school I would study economics, learned how to bake and I figured I was going to be a house wife, so I was going to need to know how.

Interviewer: You’re a good baker?

Eva: I haven’t done it for a long time.

Interviewer: What kind of things did you like to bake?

Eva: Butterscotch cookies. You can stir them up one night and bake them up the next day. You wouldn’t have all the mess at one time.

Interviewer: What did you guys do for fun?

Eva: Right now we don’t go play cards or anything like before. We belonged to a club and we enjoyed that.

Interviewer: You don’t play cards here?

Eva: Well they play, but they don’t call it pinnacle. They call it euchre. I mean they call it something else. They play once in a while.

THE END

Huddle, Dwight

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, February, 2004

C. Mr. Huddle is showing me a picture of his family. Let’s see, that’d be-how many generations ago?

D. He’s my great-grandfather.

C. And, tell me what he did?

D. Farmed.

C. Farmed? And then he must have also-didn’t you say he built that house?

D. Well he did but the first house that he built was a log cabin.

C. And that was where?

D. Right there by the fairground where the house sits now.

C. Good.

D. And he built another house. He built one on down the road later on. Corney Schumaker owned that house then, later. And he built the third house.

C. So he was sort of a carpenter then.

D. Yeah, the white house is still standing there.

C. Yeah. Built of good sturdy boards too I’ll bet.

D. There’s more of the family. Another generation’s on there. (shows a second picture)

C. This is a generation younger?

D. Um, hm. This is the same John Huddle and his wife. She was a Shumaker.

C. Oh, I’ll bet that’s how he happened to build for Schumaker.

D. Yeah. This is my grandad here and this is his wife. Dan Huddle. And this is Helen. Remember Helen Travis, Dad’s sister, schoolteacher?

C. I probably met her.

D. She taught at Malinta, McClure and other Wood County schools. But this is my Dad here/

C. Oh, the little one. He’s a cute little kid. My sister has the cutest picture of our father when he was just about that age, maybe a little bit older. He had to wear a dress to get his picture taken. He was just about ready to graduate into pants and he was so mad because they took a picture of him in a dress instead of pants. (laughs) It shows all over him in that picture.

D. Now this is Elizabeth Sudyam’s father and that is her mother.

C. Oh yeah. She looked just like her mother, didn’t she.

D. Yeah, she sure did.

D. This is Will Huddle, my grandad’s brother. He wrote the family history from down there in the Shenandoah Valley. They have a reunion every year. He went there and helped get a history together of all the Huddles.

C. When did they come to United States?

D. 1740 or 1730, I guess. They settled in the Shenandoah Valley.

C. They were there during the Revolutionary War then, weren’t they.

D. Yeah. As a matter of fact my sister belongs to the DAR.

C. Did he fight in the Revolutionary War?

D. No, no. They were farmers. They were all farmers, about ten, twelve generations of them now.

C. Well that’s something (the picture) your grandchildren will treasure some day.

D. This is the picture of one of the family reunions down there in Virginia.

C. Big one!

D. This is John’s girl Brenda and that’s Johnny. Well, I’ll have to write it all down sometime.

C. Yeah.

D. Oh, well that’s Will Huddle’s house. I wanted to show you where this one was.

C. This was Daniel Huddle?

D. No.

C. Say it again.

D. I think the first Huddle born in Henry County-uh-there was Samuel Huddle born to John and Catharine Shumaker and-uh-I think he was only four months old when he died, and he’s buried down here in Hoy Cemetery. And everybody always wondered why he was buried in Hoy Cemetery. He was buried in 1861, I think it was. I don’t know if there was many churches in Napoleon at that time. There was a church there at that cemetery and that’s where they went to church. But John Huddle was a charter member when they started the church up there in the corner by Emanuel’s church and St. Paul Lutheran. There was one settin’ in the corner there, what was it?

C. Episcopalian.

D. Episcopalian? Yeah, he was a charter member there when they started. I don’t know what year that started.

C. That was a beautiful little church and I thought it was too bad when they just sort of -what’d they do, tear that down or something?

D. Yeah. They tore it down. But anyway this boy only lived four months.

C. How’d he happen to die?

D. I don’t know. Nobody knows. Of course there’s this little stone down there on it.

C. They had so many diseases then that there was no cure for, and the kids’d get sick and there wouldn’t be any penicillin. All of a sudden they’d be gone. But then they always had quite a few children so they had others, but it made it hard, I’m sure. That’s O.K. Don’t worry about it. (both laugh)
(tape turned off while they discuss change of subject)

E. Well maybe I’d better start back from the beginning.

C. O.K. Do that!

D. When I was a Junior in High School Leo Dunbar took Dad and I out to Moline, Illinois where they were building that new self-propelled combine and Dad was interested in gettin’ one and-uh so he took us out and they was experimenting with it. There wasn’t any self-propells around at that time. I went along with them the first day. They toured the factory and then we went out to the farm and I got sick-awful sick. I laid in the car the whole day-oh just dry heaves. Then in the hotel that night I felt worse; then the next day we come home and I was really sick. I laid at home in bed for two days and then Dad finally called Dr. Delventhol and Doc come out and took a look at me and he said, “You’ve got to get him to the hospital right away. He’s got a bursted appendix.” I don’t know how he knew that but .

C. Well he probably felt all over your abdomen.

D. Yeah, they operated that day yet and-uh-I know everybody was worried because my Mom’s brother had died just a couple years before that from bursted appendix.

C. Oh yeah. Well back in those days they didn’t have any penicillan.

D. No, all they had was sulfa drugs. After that last operation I had they didn’t even sew me up. They left it all open. I just laid on my back and they kept pouring in sulfa powder.

C. Oh my gosh!

D. Yeah They’d pour on whole cupsful, just covered it with sulfa powder and let it heal from the inside out. The Doc told me that.

C. Is that what they did this time?

D. No. The first time they just sewed it up but then I got infection from that and the last time they left open then. I laid there in bed and people didn’t think I could hear but I could hear everything that was said. Couldn’t hardly talk but I could hear everything that was said. My Grandad came in one day and said, “Oh he’s a gonner. He’s a gonner.” (laughs)

C. Oh no, what a terrible thing to hear! (laughs)

D. He didn’t think I could hear but I could hear just as plain as day and-yeah. But then I was just about ready to leave the hospital and Dr. Delventhal and Walt Crahan went to the Ohio State/Michigan game up at Ann Arbor and on the way back they had an accident and Dr. Delventhal broke his leg. His office at that time was up above the bank, Community Bank.

C. That’s where it was.

D. Up that long stairway.

C. Oh he was a colorful character! Remember how he used to call everybody a ‘horse’s ass”? One day on his birthday the nurses got together and baked him this cake in the shape of a horse’s ass. (laughs)

D. Well, he was quite a doctor.

C. Yeah. He was a good old soul.

D. My wife would go there. She was afraid of doctors but she wasn’t afraid of him, I don’t think.

C. Well he was such a good guy.

D. Yeah. Sometimes you’d go in and sit there and wait, and you’d ask him how much you owed and he’d say, “Oh, get ya the next time.” Sometimes he didn’t even charge. It wasn’t very much either. Later on Doc and Walt Crahan and Charlie Bauman, they used to stop out here and Doc would always come in the house. He always had to come in the house to see Hazel and he’d give her a big hug. Oh that’d embarrass her to death.

C. (laughs) And he knew it, I’ll bet. Just to be ornery.

D. Yeah the three of them travelled around together quite a lot I think.

C. His wife-what was her name? I forget her first name. Delventhol’s wife.

D. Oh gee, she did?

C. Anyway, she smoked and he didn’t want her to smoke, so she rigged up a tent down in the cellar and she’d go down in that place and smoke a cigarette. Then he found out about it once or smelled it on her or something so her jig was up at that time but I remember her tellin’ about that.

D. I remember goin’ to his house at night to pick up medicine when the kids were sick or something and Hazel would call him and he’d say, “Oh pick it up, up to the house.” He’d have it sittin’ there on top of the mantel of the fireplace.

C. Would he make housecalls?

D. Oh yeah. They don’t do that any more.

C. Nope. Not any more. Just about the time my husband was starting to practice in 1951 people would say, “Oh it’s better just to go to the office but then if you need him he should come out to the house.” He made a few housecalls. He went to Bessie Yaichner. Did you know her? I think she’s dead now but anyway he used to go out there because she-(laughs)-she would be in the window watching for him when he’d drive up in the driveway. She’d leave the window and by the time he got to the house she was in bed and oh she hadn’t been out of bed for days. (laughs) But when he left her husband would give him some of this homemade wine and he said, “Boy it was wonderful stuff. It was really potent!” (laughs) So when Bessie was sick he’d go out and see her.

D. Yeah. I remember when our first boy was born-John-born in 1949-the doctor bill was $40 and the hospital bill was $60.

C. Is that right?

D. It’s a little different today. (laughs)

C. And you stayed in the hospital.

D. What: nine, ten days? They didn’t throw you out the next day.

C. And $60 for the whole thing.

D. Yeah. And that was in the old hospital, the old house yet.

C. And I remember Isabelle Aderman said-see she worked in that hospital-and she said, “Many’s the time we had to carry the patients on a stretcher up those steps. There wasn’t any elevator.

D. That’s where I was, in that old hospital on the top floor and they had to go out and get some men to go out to help carry me down to operate, then back up. While I was in there the Neuhouser boys all came in because their brother-in-law-he run the fox farm at Ridgeville Corners. He got crushed behind a truck up against a building. Yeah, he was married to a Neuhauser girl and they brought him in there and they put him in the room across the hall from me.

C. Did he live?

D. Yeah, he did live. It crushed his chest but he lived and the three Neuhauser men, Emil, or Ival and Menno-I don’t remember their names anymore but they run the Hatchery and were in there every day to see their brother-in-law and then they’d come across the hall to see me. We became good friends. In fact they built the chicken farm up here. Remember they raised the chickens and one of them put out a lot of pine trees. blue spruce. The three I’ve got out there in the front yard he give me when we built the house.

C. Did you build this house?

D. Yeah, about 35 years ago.

C. I always liked the layout of this house. Who planned it? Did you or Hazel or

D. Yeah we did I guess.

C. That’s what I thought. You drew up your own plans.

D. Drew up our own plans.

C. Yeah and that’s the way people used to do and it’d be perfectly fine. You didn’t have to have any architect to design it.

D. Howard Mitchell was the carpenter and he had Don Dickman. He was the carpenter that helped me. We helped. John was a senior in High School so he was home a half a day too and he helped. Yeah. Hazel kept track of everything we spent and it came up with just a little under $25,000 for the house and the pond and everything. Got a full basement. It’s a lot different today.

C. Oh yeah! $25,000 I think is what our house cost but we didn’t have a pond or any acreage. Well now, you were in World War II?

D. Yes. I thought maybe that’s what you were coming out for.

C. Well it was one thing. (both laugh)

D. That’s another long story.

C. How’d you get drafted, or didn’t you?

D. Well, I graduated from High School in 1944, and-well let’s back up. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in ’41 and I remember going with my Dad up to the Armory. He had to go register ’cause he was only . . .I was 15 at the time. He must have been 36 ’cause he had to register and I went along up there to the Armory. I had no thought of gettin’ in but of course he was worried that he was going to go. But then when I graduated in 1944 I got the ‘Greetings’ letter a couple months later and 40 of us left Napoleon on Dec. 7, 1944.

C. So you were drafted then?

D. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941 by the Japanese I was 15 years old and in the 10th grade. I remember going up to the Armory with my Dad. He had to register for the draft. I never thought I would end up in the service. I graduated in May, 1944, turned 18 in July, got a one-month deferment to help on the farm.

Then I got a notice to report for a physical. Well we went down to Cleveland to take a physical. That’s what I thought, we were goin’ down for a physical, but that night I ended up in Great Lakes Boot camp. (laughs)

C. Never had a chance to go home or anything?

D. No, no-and I just sent in a while back and got my service records and I came across one sheet in there that. . . I see what happened now. We got down there and they had a whole bunch of us in a room. There were people from all over taking their physicals and officers there. There was one officer said, “Who wants to go to the Navy?” Well right away everybody just put their hands up. They wanted to go to the Navy instead of the Army. So this fellow said, “You, you, you and you step up here. You’re in the Navy.” And I was one of the four.

C. Had you put your hand up?

D. Yeah. I’d sooner have the Navy than the Army. But then I got the service record back and it said I volunteered; I’d enlisted. (laughs) I wasn’t drafted. They had blanks there to check and I noticed that the blank on ‘drafted’ wasn’t check and here I’d enlisted that day. That’s how I got in the Navy, but I’m glad I did. I went through the Boot Camp up there in Great Lakes and in basic engineering school.

C. Was that in Cleveland?

D. No that was in Chicago. Great Lakes, Illinois. It’s a big naval training station up there. I spent, I think, 10 weeks in boot camp and then I went to service school, basic engineering for another eight and then I got a ten-day leave, I think. Come home and then I went back to Chicago and I shipped to San Francisco, Camp Shumaker, and then I caught a ship that had just come back from Okinawa and they needed some replacements, some extra men so twenty of us got aboard the ship there.

A word about the ship I was assigned to: APA-48 Uss – Leon. It turned out to be a breat ship. It was 492 feet long, 8100 tons. It could carry 2000 troops and all their equipment: trucks, jeeps. It carried 26 landing craft (LCVP’s) to take the troops ashore. Had a crew of 500. It left Norfolk March, 1944 for the Pacific on its first trip. It had gone through five invasions starting with Saipan, Jalua, Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa-all without hardly a scratch.

She was being known as the Lucky Leon. I boarded the Leon in San Francisco on May 20, 1945 with 20 other replacements and believe it or not 299 Navy Waves. The crew didn’t even notice us replacements coming abooard. (laughs) (The Waves were the women’s division of the Navy.) We took the Waves to Pearl Harbor, then came back to Portland, Oregon to get the Army troops. They had dances in the mess Hall every nite. I was sicker than a dog the first three days out. Sea Sick. Nothing any worse. Got over it and never got seasick again, even in the typhoon. After things got settled down my job was in the fire room. Had to watch steam boiler 4 hours on, 8 house off around the clock, 7 days a week.

And we went up to Portland, Oregon, got a load of Army troops. Sailed up the Columbia River–that was a nice view. I thought, “Boy this is gonna be nice.” We went up to Portland and loaded up troops. They loaded troops day and night. We weren’t there very long. Then we sailed right back down the river and across the Pacific, way over to Okinawa. Got there at Okinawa while they were still fightin’ down at the far end and-so we unloaded our troops.

C. What did you do?

D. I was down in the bottom of the ship. I was a fireman way down at the bottom and-uh-of course I volunteered to be a fireman. Most farm boys were firemen. When you go into the Navy you either wear a white band or a red shoulder band and the white band was ‘seaman’ and the red band around your arm was ‘fireman.’ They thought farm boys knew a little bit about machinery so they made them firemen. So we were made electricians or something like that but I got to be a fireman down in the fire room. I was a boilermaker really, my rank was boilermaker third class and-uh-after Okinawa we pulled away

C. What’d you feel like when you went into Okinawa, weren’t you pretty scared?

D. Well, we got a good scare before we got there. One night about three o’clock in the morning the Captain-y’know they always blow that whistle real loud and the bosun mate blows a whistle. It makes a real shrill noise and you hear it all over the ship. It wakes you up real quick. Then, “This is the Captain speaking.” He said, “We’re being trailed by a submarine and can’t make contact. Presumed to be enemy.” He said, “Just be alert. That’s all.” (laughs)

C. I’ll bet you would!

D. (laughs) That was three o’clock in the morning. I didn’t get much sleep the rest of the night. But the sub never bothered us. We were zig-zaggin’ of course. Ships did that during war. But he said the sub followed us for a ways but he was waitin’ for something bigger and then-uh-many years later we had a ship reunion and I found out what that sub was waitin’ on. A couple days after that is when the Indianapolis got sunk, the cruiser Indianapolis, right in that same area. Big loss of life on that. 800 men drowned and got ate up by sharks. That was a mess.

C. That was a bigger ship than yours was.

D. Yeah that was a big ship, a cruiser, and it had just delivered atomic bombs at Tinian, China and of course we didn’t know this till 40 years later. We didn’t know anything about it. The Indianapollis was going from Tinian to the Philippines.

C. But they had already delivered those bombs.

D. Yes, we were goin’ through that same area. I looked back at the timing and everything. But anyway we got to Okinawa with the troops and unloaded them. I got to go ashore. I rode ashore one day on an army dukw, went ashore with the troops.

C. Were you scared?

D. No. Well, the Captain was good to us fellows who worked down in the fireroom and it was awful hot. I don’t know. He treated us right. He told the officers to leave us go ashore a day if we weren’t standin’ watch. We could ride ashore, spend the day on the beach and ride back again at night cause there was always boats goin’ back and forth, either landing craft or dukws back and forth. But we were there only a couple days and unloaded. Then we backed off and went to-uh-Ulitli Atoll.

C. Did you unload troops there?

D. Yeah, troops and equipment. Then we backed off and went to Ulithi Atoll, a couple little maps.

C. Is that spelled like Ulysses like Ulysses Grant?

D. No. It’s Ulithis, somethin’ like that, a group of islands. They moved the natives off. The Navy took over. They had a marine airbase there, and while we were anchored there we were sittin’ there and waiting. See, they had the invasion of Japan all planned. It was supposed to take effect in October but then we found out later they moved it up to September. They were gonna go in September. While we were sittn’ there at this atoll I noticed on the bulletin board one day, “Anybody of a certain age and certain height and weight and so forth could volunteer for the Naval Air Corps.” Well, I thought, “Yeah. I took flying lessons before I went over there in Wauseon. And I always kind of wanted to be in the Air Corps. So I just volunteered. So there were just two of us on the ship that volunteered and fit everything so we went ashore; they took us ashore that day.”

C. At where?

D. At that atoll over to the Marine Air Base. The Marines had an Air Base there and they had a small hospital. We went over there and took our physical. We spent all day. They took us over in a small boat and-uh-we took the physicals and that afternoon before we left the officer called us in and he said we passed everything and we’d be leavin’ in October for Pensacola, the Naval Air Station. He had the orders all wrote out and-but then on the way out he said, “Take a look at the bulletin board when you go out.” We walked by the bulletin board and it said, “A large bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT.” Here that was the first atomic bomb, the day we took the physical..

C. Isn’t that something!

D. And it never said, ‘atomic bomb’. We didn’t know that till later. It just said, ‘the equilavent of 20,000 tons.”

C. They probably didn’t dare let that information out.

D. Well it wasn’t very long then till we got back on ship and about the next day then we took off, back to Okinawa. We got back there and then we loaded up Marines and-uh-for the invasion of Japan I guess. The plan was still on to invade. And then we found out it was an atomic bomb, whatever that was. That was something new. And then the next day, I think the third day another bomb was dropped then on Nagasaki. So then we were just settin’ there waitin’ with the load of Marines on ship and. .

C. Outside Okinawa, were you?

D. Yeah, we were settin’ there in the harbor, in the bay on Okinawa and the second bomb was dropped on the 9th. Oh, that was a busy place. We’d go to General Quarters night and morning. The kamicazes were comin over and they’d come out of the sun . . they’d wait till just about dusk and they’d fly out of the sun and you couldn’t see ’em.

C. Couldn’t see ’em?

D. Couldn’t see ’em. They come out of the sun and you couldn’t see ’em but we’d go to General Quarters every afternoon about 4 or 5 o’clock we’d go to General Quarters. Everybody takes their battle station, they’d seal all the hatches and we had smoke generators and . . .

C. This was on board ship?

D. Yeah, on board ship. They had smoke generators. Our captain, he was very cautious. He’d start up these smoke generators and they would hide the ship-make so much black smoke you couldn’t spot the ship. Some ships had those on and we had ’em on each end of the ship and one in a small boat along side the ship. He really hid the ship. So much smoke you couldn’t see nothing. So we came out a little lucky.

C. Did it affect your breathing?

D. Yeah, especially us that were on duty down in the fire room. They had to shut off the ventilators. They sucked that oily smoke down in the fire room so they had to shut off the ventilators and then the heat starts buildin’ up. It got pretty hot, sometimes 120 down there. It got warm down there. But we set there then . . .

C. Is that near the equator? It is isn’t it?

D. No it’s pretty well north, Okinawa is. It’s pretty close to Japan. It’s not that far away.

C. So it would be north of the Philippines?

D. Oh yeah, north of the Philippines. We sat there waitin’ to see what was goin’ to happen after we dropped those two bombs and then they told us one day, they said, “Watch for a white plane. Don’t fire at it. The Japanese are going to fly in a white Betty bomber over Okinawa down to the Philippines to talk to Mac Arthur, talk peace.” So we waited. A lot of us that were off watch we sat up there on the deck of the ship and we were waiting all day long to see if that white plane would fly over, if they wanted to talk peace. Well, we never seen it but then we find out later what happened, the Japanese delegation came in two Betty bombers and for some reason they landed on Ile Shima. Of course we were out in the bay anchored. We didn’t know that. Ile-shima is a small island next to Okinawa. Ernie Pyle, a reporter was shot and killed on this island just two weeks before this. These Betty bombers were painted white with green crosses.They landed on Ile-Shima and they ran into each other. They crashed their planes. I don’t know how they did it. I think one of ’em stopped or something and the other one hit it. There are different versions to this story.

C. Oh my gosh! Did they die?

D. No, they didn’t get hurt but they wrecked the planes so they loaded them in a C-47 army transport and they flew them down in an army transport to the Philippines. (laughs) Oh, things were really movin’ fast and furious that day. This was August 18th.

C. Oh that would have just been a hair-raising time because . . .

D. It was, because the kamikazes were comin’ in every night and . . . The last air raids we had was on the 19th.

C. 19th of October?

D. No, it was the 19th of August. It was about two weeks after the bombs dropped. Kamikazes came in and of course we made smoke again and they didn’t get out ship but they got . . .one of ’em hit the Pennsylvania battle ship. I was just readin’ a little while ago about that. Twenty men were killed on that and then they hit another transport ship and twenty men there were killed, or twenty-one. But that was the last of the kamikazes. They didn’t any of them come after that.

C. Were both of those ships in the harbor?

D. Yeah, right there in the harbor. Oh, there was 1000 ships around that island. They were just waiting for the invasion of Japan. They were just like-a lot of ’em.

C. Stacked up like Pearl Harbor.

D. And then B29s, the bombers, they were so thickin the air goin’ down to bomb Japan it looked about like a flock of crows in the air. B29s were just-hundreds of them. A lot of them were based there on Okinawa and Iwoshima another little island there along the side. Another was on Guam and Tinian and some of those other islands too but they just-they’d take off and circle ’till they all got up in the air and they’d head for Japan and it’d look just like crows flyin’, them great big bombers.

C. Well did you ever learn how to fly one of those things then, or . . .

D. Oh no. After the atomic bombs were dropped and the war ended they cancelled that program. They didn’t need aviators any more. Then, oh golly, we were so busy then! As soon as they signed peace. . . I don’t know what day it was they signed peace, the Japanese finally. . . . It was about the end of August, 20, maybe 25. And then we took off right away with our load of Marines, goin’ to Manchuria, Darwin Manchuria with this load of Marines because the Japanese had a bunch of Americans in prison up there, prisoners of war in Manchuria, but we got up there at Darwin and the Russians were already there and they wouldn’t let us land.

C. Oh!

D. Yeah. Them Russians, oh, them Russians come in the last day of the war, you know, about two days before, they come in the war. But they walked right over Manchuria, took it all over, took over North Korea, and they wouldn’t let us put troops ashore, so we went on down and put them ashore at Tiensin, China. But they was supposed to go in there and help get the prisoners out but they were a long ways from the prisoners ’cause they were in Manchuria. Well then, we come back to Okinawa again. No, from there we went to the Philippines and loaded up a load of Army troops. We carried 2000 troops.

C. Wow! That’s a lot. Now this was after they signed or before they signed the Peace Treaty?

D. This was just before they signed the Peace Treaty. The peace hadn’t been signed yet. That was Sept. 2 I think, but we went to Thailand before the peace was signed. There’s a long story to that too but . . .

C. Oh, tell!

D. We had seven ship reunions after the war and-uh-our Chief Executive Officer went on to be an Admiral. He’s still in good health and he comes to all the reunions and he fills us in on all the-what went on behind the scenes. And when we anchored off the coast of China there before we took the Marines he didn’t go in but he sent in another boat officer and he sent in some Marines. They went in to shore and they were supposed to make contact with somebody in there that they had made contact with there and they were gonns show ’em where to land the Marines the next morning but when they got ashore they couldn’t fine their contact and they were in the-where was that-the Yangtze River or something-in this boat sailin’ around there tryin’ to find a place to land and-the war was over. The peace wasn’t signed but the war was over and

C. How could that be?

D. Supposed to have been. But anyway they circled up by the dock in the boat and they happened to look up there and see there was a Japanese officer up there and he had three men with him that had rifles, and they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know whether to pick up their rifles or sneak out or-they’d spotted ’em, they spotted each other, and all at once this Japanese officer said, “Can I help you?” He shouted down there, “Can I help you?” It was in English, perfect English. This officer was tellin’ us about it at the reunion, and he said, I told him “Yes!” I said, “I’m lookin’ for a place to land the Marines in the morning.” (laughs) But anyway he went along with them back to the ship that night, this Jap officer, and rode the first boat in in the morning. And here he had been in college over in United States. He went back home for a visit just before the war and he got caught, and they made him an officer in the Japanese army and he said he talked perfect English and here he was aboard our ship that night. Of course most of us didn’t know that but he spent the night there and went back with the Marines in the morning.

C. So he was really a friend.

D. Yeah, he knew the war was over. He got the message the war was over and he was willing to help.

C. But those people wouldn’t know whether to trust him or not.

D. No, no, they were in a pretty tight spot, I tell ya. But we dropped our Marines then.

C. Where?

D. At Tientsin, China. From there we went to the Philippines then and picked up this load of Army troops and then we-and by that time the peace had been signed aboard the Missouri in Japan. The peace was signed Sept. 2 I think it was and -uh–

C. Excuse me, but where did you drop those Marines off in China? Was that by the Yangtze River?

D. Yeah, right there at the mouth of the Yangtzee River. I think they called it Tiensen. So they went on in to Beijing and up through there. So then when we picked up troops down at Manila; we landed there at Subic Bay and we got to go ashore while the troops were loadin,’ and Manila-there wasn’t a building standing. That was a smashed city. It was just smashed somethin’ awful. So we loaded troops and there was 20 ships loaded troops that day and that’d be 2000 on each one. That’d be 40,000 troops, and then we all headed for Korea. We took the occupation troops to Korea.

C. Oh, they went from the Philippines to Korea.

D. Yes. We had full military escort that day to-oh it took us about three or four days to get up there. We had escorts, destroyers, runnin’ along the side, air cover overhead. We didn’t know what to expect in Korea.

C. Did they still have to zigzag their way in?

D. No, we went straight. Uh-when the peace was signed we started goin’ straight, didn’t zigzag. But we got in mine fields, a lot of mines.

C. Oh, how did you know where you were goin’

D. Before we got to Korea all ships stopped in the ocean and each ship picked up a Jap pilot to guide the ship in. Yeah, we were the lead ship of the convoy. We had 20 ships in the convoy, but we had two mine sweepers out front and they had a cable between ’em and they cut a path through the mine field. If they hit a mine it would pop to the surface. They were on cables. You couldn’t see ’em; they were underneath the water but they were on cables. They’d pop to the surface and then they’d shoot ’em with 20mm cannon or something. Blow ’em up. So they shot up quite a few mines on the way up there. Then we went up the-Inchon River-took a whole day to get up that river.

C. I remember that being in the news, Inchon

D. Then we landed up there at Inchon, and the ships went in a big tidal basin and the tides up there are 30 feet. The water goes up and down 30 feet. We went in high tide and then when the water went out-30 feet-we were sitting high and dry in the mud.

C. Oh! I never heard of tides being that high.

D. But most of the troops got ashore at high tide and-uh-that was somethin’ though we were sittin’ there in the ship and there’d just be mud and all these people comin’ out from the shore and we couldn’t figure out what they was gonna do. When we left Korea our Captain ordered 500 Jap rifles brought back to the ship. Each crewman got one. I still got mine.

C. In the mud?

D. They were all carryin’ buckets, pickin’ up clams. They were so hungry that even with all the commotion goin’ on they still came out and picked up clams, bucketsful.

C. You know, Dr. Flora was just a kid at the time of World War II and he was a messenger. Being as little as he was he made friends with either side and he was friendly with everybody.

D. He didn’t show his age either I’ll bet. You know, you can’t tell how old those boys are.

C. No, so he did a lot of good in WWII, just delivering information. He was smart; he’d just memorize it.

D. But anyway we left Korea then. We dropped off the 40,000 troops. That’s what they put ashore there that day, and the Russians had their troops there. On their half. They drew a line and they cut Korea in two, and there’s still 40,000 troops there. United States kept 40,000 troops over there for the last 60 years.

C. So we took over South Korea and the Russians had the North.

D. Yeah. Then we left there and we went back over to Okinawa for the next adventure. Then we got part way back and Captain got a message that a big storm was coming up through the China Sea and-one of our ships got diverted after we left Korea over to Darwin, where we were supposed to land our troops to begin with, in Manchuria. Well here the Russians got our prisoners out and one ship went over there to Darwin and picked up our prisoners of war. The Russians put them on board our ship and then they joined up with us then oheadin’ for Okinawa.

C. Who did?

D. This other ship that picked ’em up, and then they joined up with us, and then we got down there in Okinawa and found out this storm was comin’ and the ship that picked up the prisoners came up alongside of us pretty close and history says that they called over and said, “What’s up?” And our Captain said, “There’s a big typhoon comin’ up the China Sea and you’d better fall in line and go along with us.” You know, the ships gotta go to sea in a typhoon. If you’re not you’re gonna get shipwrecked on the shore. They all head to sea. Head right in to the typhoon. Right in because you have to hit them waves head first because if you hit them sideways they’ll roll you over so you hit ’em head in. And we got into that storm. Oh it was bad. About the second day I’d just got off watch that morning down in the fire room. That was a major undertaking getting’ up and down the ladders cause the ship was a rollin’ 30 degrees, just rollin’ up and down and sideways.

C. Oh! Was there water coming in the hold?

D. No, no water. All the hatches were sealed between the rooms you know, to protect ’em in case they hit somethin’. And it was so hot down there and I come up on deck and nobody was on deck , and I was hangiin’ on just watching this ship and it was about a half-mile from us and it was up and down. One time you’d see it, then you wouldn’t see it.

C. How high would you say those waves would be?

D. Oh, 30, 40 feet high. Big enough to hide a whole ship. They would be big swells. And I was lookin’ right towards this ship and all at once the whole side opened up. They hit a mine. It blew a big hole in there. You could drive a car or truck through it.

C. Did it sink?

D. No, it didn’t sink but it knocked out the whole fire and engine room. Killed about 25 people.

C. That’s like down there where you were!

D. Yeah. It could have been our ship just as well as that one.

C. That’s what a mine did to you.

D. Yeah, that was a mine. I have a history here. You’ll have to read that. It tells all about it. But it was dead in the water. No power cause the whole engine room was flooded, but we couldn’t do anything ’cause we could barely stay afloat ourselves. And a cruiser came along then later in the day and they tried to get a line on it. They was afraid they’d hit it, and there had to be 400 prisoners of war on it, American prisoners-been in prison for four or five years. They sent us letters later and they said they’d spent all that time in a Japanese prison camp and they thought they’d die on the way home.

C. I wonder if Jim Huff was on that?

D. No, I asked him about it later. He wasn’t on that one. He don’t know anything about that, and a ship then later in the day, a two stacker, a little-this little ship came along and he got close enough to it that they could get a little line across. They shot a line across; they usually just shoot a small line, then they pull a bigger line and a bigger line. Just keep pullin’ a bigger line till you get a size that you need to pull. And they hooked on to that ship and took it under tow and then, so they could keep it headed the right way so it wouldn’t upset.

C. The typhoon was still goin’ on?

D. The typhoon was still goin’ on. And then it-it lasted only about three days, three or four days.

C. Whew!

D. Then after that died down then they told us to go to Okinawa. They took the prisoners off and it says in the history that after they took the prisoners off they took it back out to sea and sank it. It had a bad hole in it and-uh. Well anyway, let’s see, we went back to Okinawa again. I don’t remember just how that was anymore. Oh, then we-that’s a whole ‘nother story. We thought-they were startin’ to test the atomic bomb already at Bikini Atoll, and our ship was in such bad shape. It was an old ship really compared to some that was made later. We thought we had to take it over to Bikini and they were gonna use it to test the atomic bomb, see. They lined up a bunch of ships, old ships, and they dropped atomic bombs after the war to test them, and they done that right away after the peace was signed. They had some more bombs. They wanted to test them. Then, we didn’t go to that. They decided we needed to haul Chinese troops, so then we had to start hauling Chinese troops from way down in southern China and Burma. We hauled them up to Tiensen at the mouth of the Yangtzee River, and we made five trips doin’ that, haulin’ them Chinese troops up there, and there was 20 ships involved in that deal. Might have been the same 20 ships almost, but they figured they hauled about a half a million Chinese soldiers up there to fight the Communists. The Communists were startin’ to take over China then. It wasn’t the Japanese; it was the Communists.

About this same time we had to shut down both of our power plants to fix them. We were dead in the water for two days off the coast of China.

C. Oh my golly! Yeah, ’cause after World War II that’s when . . .

D. Oh yeah. Right away. So then we stayed there on the Chinese run for quite a while. Oh maybe it was a month. And then finally we got done with that. We headed to Saysebo, Japan. That was our first contact with Japan. Now Sasebo’s on the back side toward Korea. They had a big harbor there and big docks. We tied right in. That’s the first time we tied in at the dock. We went right up to the dock and tied to it.

C. How do you spell that?
D. Sasebo. It’s on the map. It was just 50 miles from where the atomic bomb was dropped, Nagaski. So the officers on our ship took the Captain’s jeep and they went over there to see where the bomb had dropped.. Of course the rest of us didn’t get to go but the officers went over there.

C. It’s probably just as well! It’d be unhealthy.

D. Oh, it was a mess! There wasn’t nothing left over there. I know that where we tied up at Sasebo the buildings were all-all’d been bombed and burned out. Yeah.

C. There was a song about that time: ‘Say-se-bo, da-ta-data.’ But that may have been French for ‘Say yes’ or something. I don’t know-just guessing, but it could have been that name.

D. Well we loaded up again our Marines, a bunch of Marines to head back to the States. A bunch-a-we only had 400 aboard. We could haul 2000. Of Chinese troops we hauled 4000. We only had bunks enough for two but we hauled four because they said they could sleep in shifts, some could sleep in the day and some at night, but I think most of them stayed up topside anyway. It took five days to make that trip one way, when we was haulin those Chinese.

C. Was it real hot too?

D. It was hot, and the Chinese officers would eat with the crew. They ate with us. And a lot of the officers could speak English and they could talk. The Chinese of course couldn’t. And-uh-they got out to sea and it was rough waters, the South China Sea, and a lot of them got seasick. Oh, they’d get seasick! And all they ate was rice, you know. They cooked rice right on the decks. The decks were steel and they built fires right on top of the deck to cook their rice. They brought their rice along.

C. It’s a wonder they didn’t burn the ship down.

D. No, it was all steel. And they brought all that rice in bags-big 200 lb. bags. I don’t know how they carried them around. And that’s what they lived on. Of course the officers ate with us. They liked our food. (laughs) Then the officer told us, he said, “These troops are gonna, when they get up there they’re gonna surrender. They’ve been fightin’ five years. They’re tired. They’re done and I know they’re gonna surrender.” And that’s what happened. Even with a half-million troops hauled up there it wasn’t very long till they surrendered and the Communists took over, all across southern China. And that’s because they surrendered. That’s what they done.

C. I don’t blame ’em!

D. But those boys got so seasick when they got out there, and we lost quite a few of them every day.

C. Oh they died!

D. Yeah, we had to go around and bury ’em. Had to go around and pull ’em out of the hold, up the steps, up the ladders.

C. Oh, did you have to do that?

D. Well no, I didn’t have to help but the seamen had to do all that, all the deck seamen. The Chinese troops wouldn’t touch them I thought that was strange. They wouldn’t touch these bodies, but these seamen had to pull them up out of the holds and they’d tie a weight between their legs and throw ’em over the side and the Chinese would sit around there laughin’ and-uh-we couldn’t figure out what was goin’ on and we asked some of the officers and he said, “Oh, they laugh when they die. Their misery’s over when they die.” He said, “They cry when they’re born.” (laughs)

C. Wow!

D. I’ll have to ask some Chinese sometime about that. He said, “They cry when there’s a baby born. They laugh when they leave us.”

C. That’s just hard to believe.

D. I know but he said they did. They wouldn’t even get up. The boys had to pick them guys up and bury them at sea. That was a crude way of doin’ it. Well anyway we went back to Japan and then we loaded up some Marines that had been through all those invasions out there. We had a load of bad ones. Some of ’em was even hospital cases. Mental cases. They had a few of ’em even locked in the brig when we come back for their own safety. Yeah they were just a kind of a bad bunch. Boy, they could tell horrible stories that went on in them islands.

C. In the islands?

D. Yeah, you see they’d been up through them islands, those Marines, and they ended up in Japan in Occupation Duty, then we picked them up to take ’em back to the States. Yeah. This was in December, this was in December when that was goin’ on. We picked them up there at Sasebo and then we left for San Diego.

C. In other words, when you dropped off the Chinese you picked up these Marines, the bad ones, to bring home.

D. Yeah, the bad ones to bring home. Seventeen days it took us to come straight across and we didn’t see an island, didn’t see anything in those seventeen days comin’ back. We got into San Diego Christmas day. Isn’t that somethin? Christmas Day we pulled in to San Diego and then we put some of those Marines ashore right away, took some of them to hospitals and-uh-

C. I’ll bet you really would liked to have gotten off that ship to go home!

D. Well, I finished it up. The Navy had a point system and you get enough points then you were out and a lot of ’em left the ship right there in San Diego. They had enough points: if you had dependents and it depended on how long you was in service and this and that, you could get out of the Navy. And a lot of them got out over there before we even done the Chinese bit. Some of ’em got off the ship and come back.

C. You and Hazel hadn’t gotten married by that time?

D. No, no, it was way after that. This was still ’45, yeah, ’45 and we got in there on Christmas Day. Then we stayed there about a week and then we went down to Panama Canal. We were goin’ to Mobile, Alabama and there was about half the crew left on the ship yet. That’s about all that was on the ship, so the Captain wanted to give everybody liberty down in Panama. That was a great liberty place. We spent two days on each end so everybody’d go ashore on liberty. We went through the canal, then we spent two days on that side and we headed for Mobile, Alabama and the shipyard. And they were goin’ to decommission the ship. The Navy turned it over to the civilians so then we were goin’ across the bay there, the Gulf of Mexico. The Captain sent down orders one day; he said, “Let’s try out this tub; see how fast she’ll go-flank speed.” So we were to pour out everything we could-make as much steam as we could and see how fast it could go. He said, “I always wanted to see how fast it could go.” So it was ‘flank speed ahead’ (chuckles). We got her up to, I guess it went about 17 knots. Usually it’s only goin’ about 11, but it went 17 knots.

C. How did that compare to miles?

D Oh, probably 20 miles an hour. And it was shakin, oh it was just shakin’ somethin’ awful as if it would fly apart.

C. Oh dear!

D They didn’t hold it there too long, maybe backed off to standard speed. Then we pulled in there at Mobile, Alabama, and went up the river to Chickasaw, pulled in there and docked it, then about a week later we had decommission ceremonies. Everybody had to wear their dress whites. Of course we hadn’t had ’em on for a year. Put on dress whites, all lined up on the ship and they had a decommissioning ceremony, they called it. The Navy turned it over to the shipyard there. They took everything off it that was Navy. We had to work there about two weeks takin’ everything off of it. Took the guns off and anything that had to do with the Navy they stripped off.

C. Well then, they gave it to civilians?

D. Yeah, they sold it to a civilian outfit then to haul bananas from South America. Well, the history says later,1970, it was sold to a scrap yard over in Spain. It was taken to Spain, sold and cut up for scrap. After the decommissioning ceremonies in the afternoon they loaded us all on buses. Actually there was about a couple hundred left there yet. It took four or five buses.

C. By this time you were really anxious to get out, I’ll bet.

D. Yeah, yeah. They took us to New Orleans. We went to New Orleans at the Navy base there and then next day they give us papers and everything there to head home. They gave us a 30-day leave. Yeah, everybody took off, had a 30-day leave.

C. How’d you get home?

D. Train, I think. I’m not real sure. Usually went in and out of Lima. I know when I went to Chicago I’d go to Lima, then take the train into Chicago. We’d board the train there in Chicago and that takes you right out to Great Lakes, right out to the front door. I made that trip quite a few times. Then after that 30-day leave I still didn’t have enough points. I wasn’t in there long enough. I had to go back to Chicago, got on the train again and went to Seattle. At Seattle I took another train and went down to Treasure Island in San Francisco. Bay. You’ve heard of Treasure Island, haven’t you? That was where the World’s Fair was in the late ’30’s.

C. Yeah, I’ve seen the signs to Treasure Island.

D. Just as you go over the Bay, the Oakland Bay Bridge. You gotta go over the Oakland Bay Bridge and you cut down to Treasure Island.

C. I always wondered why they called it ‘Treasure Island.’

D. That was a big naval base then. I stayed there then about two weeks, Treasure Island.

C. Why was it called ‘Treasure’?

D. Oh just a fancy name for it.

C. Because they had the World’s Fair there maybe.

D. Yeah, the World’s Fair. Mammoth big buildings-boy! Big quonsut buildings-big, big buildings. There’s two buildings. They said there was 5000 sailors slept in each one, I mean bunks. Two-tiered bunks. They said there was 5000 in there. Man you could, at night you couldn’t hear yourself think: snorin’-oh! (C. laughs) I was there about two weeks and then I caught another ship-had to go right back out again. That’s it. (laughs) It didn’t last that long though. In about another three or four months I got out permanently, but I had to go right back out again.

C. Byron Armbruster was . . .

D. Byron’s got quite a story, I’ll tell ya!

C. Yeah, his 90th birthday comin’ up. He gave us his story too and he said that they came home from Europe and they were slated to go right on over to the Pacific.

D. Yeah, the ships were all headed that way, but when they dropped those bombs everything kind of slowed up.

C. It was either him or Bob Downey, one or the other, they expected they’d have to just keep right on going.

D. Yeah. I have a map that shows right where we were to land our troops, in the southern part of Japan, right on the island, right where we were gonna land. It was only about a month away. They said they moved it up to September and they dropped the bombs in August and they were goin’ in the next month.

C. I’m so glad they didn’t. That would have been so many lives lost, the Japanese and Americans. Both. They wouldn’t give up. They said the women and kids would fight just as hard. They wouldn’t give up either. That’s the way it was on Okinawa. They had to kill everybody.

C. What was the purpose of that? Why did the Japanese want to fight I wonder?

D. Oh, I don’t know. There was kids runnin’ around on Okinawa in packs, 30 to 40 kids in a pack. That’s all the-there wasn’t any grownups, adults at all, just kids. And, I suppose they were girls and boys both; they looked like boys but I’m sure they were half girls, and they just run around and they’d scrounge food wherever they could and wherever the Army had a kitchen or somethin’ they’d hang around there trying to get food and-I’m sure they fed a lot of them too, the Army, but they just would nobody give up. They’d get down there on the far end of the island, what was left just jumped off the cliffs, committed suicide.

C. Oh they did.

D. Oh yeah, there was pictures of them, women and men both, they just jumped off the high cliffs in the ocean and committed suicide before they’d surrender. Didn’t make sense. But these Marines, this one Marine was so shook up he said one night there on Okinawa they had a machine gun, he and another fellow, and they heard a noise out ahead of them in the bush. He said they opened up and fired, figured they was Japs comin’ after ’em. In the morning they went out and counted ’em-all kids. Runnin’ around there at night, they just got mowed down . But he felt bad about it but he said it was either them or me. They wouldn’t have hurt ‘im; they were just tryin’ to be friends, these kids you know. If you had anything to eat they wanted it. They were starving.

C. Ah, that’s sad!

D. Yeah, we’d take apples along with us when we went on shore leave, and they’d fight over the apple core.

C. Over the core! Well that’s why the prisoners were so emaciated; they hadn’t had enough to eat.

D. Yeah, the Japs were the worst.

C. Why was food so scarce, I wonder?

D. I don’t know if it really was; they just made it scarce.

C. Why would they make it scarce? I don’t understand.

D. Well, their philosophy was different. They thought anybody that surrendered didn’t, shouldn’t live, I guess. They should fight to the death. That was their training.

C. Oh yeah. That was honorable

D. Fight to the death. Yeah. Oh I didn’t-the night the peace was signed the battleship was you know, in Tokyo Bay and that night in Okinawa all the search lights came on, all the ships that had search lights came on. Search lights were on the shore. They was just rakin’ the sky.

C. Did you wonder what was goin’ on?

D. No, no, it was just celebration you know. Even we had some search lights, rakin’ them back and forth across the sky, and then everybody started firin’, firin’ their guns, celebratin’ the surrender you know. And oh, there was a lot of firin’, tracer bullets. See, every so many bullets there was a tracer bullet, so they could tell where they were goin’ and the sky was just red with traacer bullets.

C. Oh, it was!

D. Oh just red. And search lights yet, and they kept that up for a couple hours, everybody -oh, a thousand ships sittin’ around and everybody shootin’, shinin’ lights, and then later on years later at a reunion the Admiral said, “Yeah, there were nine sailors killed that night, stray bullets.”

C. Oh, but tracer bullets wouldn’t kill them.

D. No, tracer bullets wouldn’t but they used live bullets too. Yeah, but I suppose with all them bullets flyin’ around they had to come down somewhere.

C. Probably some of them shot straight in the air and it came down and-

D. Yeah. They was all shootin’ straight up, all around the island. You know they came down somewhere.

C. So after you were mustered out then you came home here, did you?

D. Yeah, I got out in August of ’46. Then Hazel and I got married in ’48.

C. Had you known her before?

D. No

C. How’d you happen to meet her?

D. Well, my sister got married first. She married Hazel’s brother, Lawrence. Do you know them up town there, Lawrence Leaders? They got married in the spring and then they took Hazel and I along on a blind date I guess and then we got married in September. And

C. What did Hazel do before she got married?

D. Well she just got out of school. (laughs) I got her right out of school. See, I was gone for two years and I come back and she graduated that year, I think and then we got married in the fall. Yeah, there was about three and a half years’difference in our age I guess.

C. Yeah, you still would be pretty young if you went in when you were fifteen.

D. I was 22 and she was 18. Hazel lived out on a farm out west of Holgate and she had to milk cows twice a day.

C. By hand?

D. By hand, yeah. Her Dad hated to lose her. He had to sign papers too in order for her to get married.

C. Yeah ’cause she wouldn’t be 21 yet.

D. He kind of hesitated a little bit. (laughs)

C. Did you have to ask for his permission or . . .

D. Well, I guess I must have. He went along to the courthouse to sign. Yeah, I don’t know.

C. Well then where did you live then when you were first married?

D. Down the road here was another house up on the hill there. It’s still there. I was born down in the house where John lives.

C. Which one?

D. On the corner there, right across from the township house, that big house? I was born right there, Dr. Fiser was the doctor.

.. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

C. George Rafferty said he spent-oh I don’t know how many trips he made to Chicago to try to convince Campbell Soup to put their plant here. He said he didn’t get any cooperation from the City fathers. Do you know anything about that?

D. George did?

C. Yeah, that’s what he said.

D. To get ’em to come here before they built?

C. Yeah.

D. Well I don’t know about that. Well I was on the first zoning board. I was on the zoning board when Campbell Soup came in here and built, and Moses Dickey was head of the zoning board, and we’d always meet over at Moses’ house and then we met down here at the township house with Campbell’s attorneys and they wanted us to set their land all outside the zoning you know. They threatened to pull out and not build here unless we set their land all outside the zoning and man we got phone calls from the city officials and they really put pressure on us to set that land out so Campbells would build here. We finally did . That was way back in the ’50’s.

C. So then the City Fathers helped you in a way.

D. Yeah, they got it in here but they weren’t happy. It was in Harrison Township instead of the city. They’ d liked to have had it in the city for taxes.

C. But better to have it outside, really, as big as that plant is. Remember the one that was built in the middle of Defiance and put out such an odor? What was the name of that? It was a real stink in the heart of the city. So you were on the zoning board?

D. Yeah, I was on for a long time. I was on for 30 years, then John followed me. He’s on now, so we’ve been on since it started.

C. Well, Byron Armbruster said that there were several canning plants in the city and one of them became Campbells, so maybe they bought out one of those little ones, did they?

D. Well there was other plants here during the war. Lippencott, then it went to Loudon; then Campbells.

C. Yeah, that’s the one I guess. And Foster.

D. That’s different over there in Foster’s I guess. But I remember when I was in high school I worked at Campbells cause when my folks died I noticed their Social Security numbers was right in line with mine: one two three right on the end.

C. You father’s?

D. Yeah, cause we got them all at the same time causes we all worked at Campbells Soup. We worked at Campbells and we had to get Social Security cards. We got them all at the same time. I didn’t realize that until they passed away but I worked there when I was in high school and Dad had an old Model A truck he took over there and he would load canned soup and haul it over to the fairgrounds and they stored it over at the fairgrounds in those buildings.

C. Oh they did?

D. Yeah. That’s where-he got paid for haulin’ it over there and couple of us would go over there and help load it and unload it. And at that time there was German prisoners-of-war workin’ in the plant, back in the back, stackin’ boxes and things, unloadin’ railcars. There was a whole bunch of German prisoners back there with an armed guard but they weren’t goin’ nowhere. They were happy bein’ here I think. They were stationed up and Defiance at them CCC camps up there.

C. Oh, I wondered where they stayed. Now Ed Peper said that he remembered when he was a kid there were German prisoners-of-war working where he was, but I don’t think it was Campbells. Would it have been the lumber yard where he worked in Holgate?

D. Oh they worked other places. Up at Pleasant Bend I’ve got a friend up there, Winzinger, they built a barn up there for them, German prisoners. A big barn. Carl Winzinger. Anybody that wanted to work could get it.

C. They weren’t a threat or anything.

D. No, they weren’t any threat. See, they was glad the war was over for them. If they’d been Japanese it might have been a different story. (laughs)

C. Well we had Japanese people that we forced ’em to go someplace here in United States. Nobody knew anything about it. It was kept very quiet but just now it’s come out, but I think they were probably treated all right. I never heard of any cruelty toward them.

D. Oh you mean out there in California? I think, they had to do something. There could have been some bad ones in that bunch. It turned out there weren’t any but who know? They could have been. During the war they had guards out here on the railroad bridge across the river. They were posted there all during the war.

C. I didn’t know that. Is that the one here by Campbells?

D. I don’t know about that one but the one right here on the DT&I railroad; they had a guard house on each end. There’s a fellow walked the bridge there, with a rifle. (chuckles)

C. I’d hate to be on there when the train was coming. He’d never . . .

D. Well, he probably wasn’t out there then but he . . . yeah, you’d never know if they had any sabotagers or not.

C. So, when you and Hazel were first living there across from the Grange house, that was on the north side of the road?

D. Yeah. That’s where we lived first. Oh, we moved up and down this road about four times.

C. Oh did ya?

D. Yeah.

C. How’d it happen?

D. Well, Dad bought a farm down the road where that brick house is down there?

C. Yeah.

D. So we moved in there, lived there a couple years.

C. Was that brick house there at the time?

D. Brick house, way down? Yeah. That was the Nelson farm.

C. ‘Way down.’ What do you mean?

D. The big brick half a mile down the road from the corner.

C. Yeah. About a half mile west.

D. From the corner. Yeah, he bought that farm after the war. We lived there and then he decided he was gonna remodel that so then we moved where he lived, down on the corner where John lives, moved in there.

C. And John lives katy corner from the Grange?

D. Straight across.

C. Straight across. Moved there then.

D. That’s where I was born. Moved back in there awhile and then, I don’t know what happened. We moved out of there and we moved down here on the hill.

C. On the other side of the road?

D. Yeah. Finally Hazel said, “That’s enough of that. Why don’t we build a house?” (laughs) So that’s when we built. Got my Dad all upset I guess but that’s when we built.

C. Why would he get upset?

D. Oh I don’t know. (chuckles) Y’know when you came back from service a little bit, you matured pretty fast out there. Always worked at home before that and I think your folks expect you to come back and work at home.

C. Oh, be the same, and you’re not.

D. Yeah. They don’t want ya to go out on your own. Hazel and I got married when we didn’t have much to farm here, just one little farm back here I was farmin’ for a fellow. There was a farm for rent up along the river, the Lenhart farm, Walter Lenhart, and he had two farms right after we got married and he said he’d rent one to me and we were goin’ to move up that way but my Dad wouldn’t have that. He said I had to stay here with him, so I had to go back and give ’em up. (chuckles)

C. I’m surprised that he would do that.

D. Yeah, he wanted us down here. He didn’t want us up that way, close to her folks.

C. Is that near where she was born and raised?

D. Well up that way, yeah. It’s a bit closer. Yeah.

C. So, what did you raise then when you were farming?

D. Oh, when Campbells came we started growin’ carrots then. We still grow carrots for Campbells, corn and beans and carrots.

C. Potatoes still?

D. No, we used to grow some potatoes but we give it up.

C. Karl said you have three refrigerated barns now.

D. We’ve got one. One refrigerated barn here. Jay’s got a couple.

C. Oh, that’s where he got the number.

D. Yeah, Jay’s got a couple, but we’ve got one. We store carrots for Campbells in it. We’ve got ’em in there pretty near the year around; they come and go.

C. Don’t they get rotten in there?

D. Well we’ve got refrigeration.

C. Oh that’s right.

D. Yeah, yeah. We’re haulin’ in right now every day, take some over to Campbells.

C. How do you refrigerate a barn?

D. You’ve got air tunnels in the floor. Air comes up through the floor. Yeah, ya gotta keep ’em cool; the air’s gotta stay cool, 32, 33 degrees or they go bad. They go bad quick if it isn’t cool.

C. Well what’d you do, did you just keep buying land then when your crops turned out pretty good?

D. Yeah. This farm here I bought in three different pieces. Ernie Buchop owned this farm. The first 40 acres on that farm I bought and I raised some hogs over there on that side. Then I bought this 40 along the road here and then that’s when we built the house.

C. That’s hard work to raise hogs isn’t it?

D. Yeah. I always liked hogs and I had hogs when we first got married. In fact Hazel’s dad gave us a sow that was gonna have pigs. That’s where I got started, and he always give each one of the kids some livestock or something to get started. I liked hogs. I had ’em back here on this other farm and I raised them over there in the woods. Then I built the building over here after I bought this 40 acres , then moved the hogs up there and kept ’em inside a building. And then I bought some other hogs to go with them to feed out and they got sick, and then I got the whole bunch sick.

C. What’d they get sick from?

D. Well, the ones I bought came from Virginia or somewhere-feeder pigs. They were gonna feed ’em out and they got sick. The other hogs I raised my own, they caught it. Doc Gregory was makin’ more money than I was so. . . (laughs)

C. How’d you get out?

D. So I sold them out. We sold out, and-uh-we had borrowed money at that time to build that hog house and after we sold the hogs we had a dickens of a time getting’ that paid off. Oh, we had a heck of a time. So we decided right then and there-it was only $7500-but that was a lot of money back then. But once we got that paid off we both decided we would never borrow any money for anything except land.

C. That was a pretty good rule.

D. That’s what we always did. We never did. We never borrowed money for anything. If we couldn’t pay for it we didn’t get it, but we’d borrow for land.

C. Good guide to go by.

D. Yeah. And we still do that today, I do. Not many people do that. (chuckles)

C. I remember when Ed was in medical school some neighbors of ours said, “Don’t you buy things on credit? Well look at what all you can buy! You can. . .” We said, “No. We’re not goin’ to do that.” We didn’t.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (end of tape)

Vocke, Dorothy

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, April 12, 2007

DV: This is Dorothy Vocke talking about the history of Napoleon. One of the things that you don’t see anymore is that-my Dad was in the Bakery here in Napoleon for many years, Chubb’s Bakery, and he had a wagon that was pulled by a horse and John Hoeffel, Sr. would bring the wagon all over town. That horse used to stop in front of our house and for some reason or other he had to relieve himself right there (chuckles) and my brother and my’s job was to take the hose out there and spray the street. They did that quite a few years. I don’t exactly know how many, and I still have one of the bells that I gave to my daughter that used to be on the bread wagon. They had two bells, one on either side, so people would hear the bread wagon come. They carried bread and baked goods and what have you.

CW: Did they go out into the country with it?

DV: Well he didn’t, no, it was just in town, and so that’s something that the kids-I’ve got a picture at home somewhere of that wagon and horse. I can’t tell you where it’s at. My sister may have it-Kay McColley.

CW: Oh, she’s your sister.

DV: Yeah. That was during the war years that he used to go around town. I don’t know how long they had that.

CW: Didn’t you say the other night that Florian Sauer would stop in at the bakery?

DV: Florian took a truck out in the country and Marie was working at the bakery. That’s where he met her and he would take rolls and bread and that on the truck out in the country then. If he didn’t sell it all he’d bring it back to the bakery and my Dad would sell it for day-old stuff. He had a case where he’d put it. It was all right. It was just traveled a little bit but-no, that’s where he started. That was a long time ago. Then of course we kids all got to work in the bakery whether we wanted to or not.

CW: What kind of work did you have to do there?

DV: I took cookies off the trays; I frosted cakes and iced rolls-that kind of thing. I didn’t do any actual baking. That was done by the men that worked there but I got to do that kind of stuff. And I’d wait on customers. We had to add up; this was before the registers added up for you so I learned to add up pretty fast. I kind of added it up in my head as I was waiting on people too.

CW: You’d have to do subtracting too to find out how much change to give them, wouldn’t you?

DV: Oh yes. You know now it’s amazing: some of the kids, even the paper boys, can’t make change.

CW: Right, and even if they can add , they can’t subtract.

DV: There’s something lost there someplace. But you know, all my group of friends worked-my high-school years were during the War years-we all worked someplace after school, and I think that’s kind of lost too. You know, you wouldn’t have kids getting into trouble if they had small jobs. But, well a lot of them do. You can’t bunch them all up together. But we all worked so I worked after school, and I worked on Saturday night. Nobody else wanted to work on Saturday night so I got that job. Liberty Center football players used to come in on Saturday night and I’d feed them all. (laughs) I’d give them cookies and everything: “Get rid of it. I want to get out of here!”

But downtown Napoleon was really busy on Saturday night. People would come in and the ‘little woman’ would go to Spenglers to do her grocery shopping; the men would go in the back. They had swinging doors then where the men would go in the back at the bar and have their beer while the little woman was shopping. It took me a long time to go through those doors, ’cause I used to go up there and pick up groceries for my mother but I wouldn’t dream of going through those swinging doors to the back. So when they finally opened up I felt really self-conscious about going back there.

CW: Was that sort of a ‘men only’ place?

DV: I don’t know if it was actually ‘men only’. Some of them were ‘men only’ but it was kind of the coffee shop nowadays. They’d all congregate back there. Of course Spenglers had a full line of groceries there. They didn’t have that much meat. They had a lot of cold cuts and stuff for sandwiches, canned goods and cheese and what-have-you.

Saturday night was a big night. People used to come in and park their cars just to watch the crowd go round, and meet their friends.

CW: Is that right? Stand around and talk a lot?

DV: Oh yeah. We had one problem though. There was a lady here in town who lost her son. He was actually in Jimmie Stuart’s group of fliers. He was killed and that was the only child she had, Mrs. Kiyser. She would be downtown at night and if she heard anybody talking German she would walk up to them and say, “Why don’t you go back to Germany?” That kind of ceased that talking German. Before that you could go from corner to corner and hear people speaking German because it was a German settlement here. And she was very bitter about that, but you know: it was her own son. He was a co-pilot or navigator or something and he was shot down over the Channel. She never forgave Germany for that and she didn’t want to hear German when she came downtown. So that’s kind of a different story too. And I had a friend whose mother-they had a–Thomsons had a photography shop-and she could speak German. They’d come in there and they didn’t know that she could speak German. She’d keep her mouth shut and they’d come in the shop and talk about how high the prices were and that. She’d let them go on and on and finally she’d answer them in German. (laughs) She got a bang out of that. Those are kind of funny stories.

CW: Yeah, they are. And they also tell you a lot about the people and their feelings.

DV: I think everybody-you probably had that too-was very patriotic during World War II. They had scrap drives and my mother used to save fat because they made soap out of it, and you know, shoes were rationed. I wish I had saved some of those rationing coupons on meat and stuff.

CW: And gas. You couldn’t drive much.

DV: Well that’s when the country boys became very popular ’cause they had tractor gas. We’d load up about ten kids in the car. It was packed solid. It’s a wonder we didn’t have a wreck. My sister had one: too many kids in the car.

CW: What’d they do, run the car off the road or something?

DV: My cousin came home. . . they’d had I don’t know how many kids in the car . . . and she had holes in her stockings and what have you. Her mother said, “What happened?” She said the car rolled over but nobody got hurt too bad because they were packed too tight. (chuckles) My aunt started to bawl ’cause she was so upset. My mother never knew that Marge, my sister, had been in an accident. That’s the way we used to travel, you know. If you had a car that had gas in it everybody that could get in got in. Of course you’d get arrested nowadays. That was just the times.

CW: Did you have flat tires?

DV: No, nobody seemed to have flat tires that I know of.

CW: That was after they’d improved the tires I guess.

DV: Yeah, well anyway, that’s just some of the things that happen As far as the school goes they kind of put the lid on a lot of stuff as far as going out of town. We did march-I was in the band. We did march at the Firemen’s Convention once up at Defiance, and I think at Port Clinton.

CW: Who was that band leader that was Italian?

DV: Mike Lombardi.

CW: Didn’t he get them started going to those firemen’s conventions?

DV: Well, he would yell at you pretty good if you did wrong. I was a flag carrier then. They only had two flags: I carried the school flag and my best friend had the American flag. Then we had three drum majors, one in the front and two in the back. That was at the head of the band, and my brother played trombone and he was marching right behind me. He was always tryin’ to hit me with his trombone (smiles) No, we used to . . . you’d think . . . we were sloppier than all get-out when we practiced before a football game, but when the lights came on, you were in uniform and everybody stepped up and tried to make the school proud of us. They used to have a football game on Thanksgiving.

CW: Oh they did!

DV: I can remember one Thanksgiving that was just colder than all get-out. We nearly froze our buns. You know, with those uniforms you couldn’t put a coat or anything over them.

CW: Did you wear the short skirts?

DV: No. We wore pants. You had to wear pants. Flag bearers were supposed to wear white-cream-colored outfits with a jacket.
The two drum majors had high-necked jackets with their bearskin hats. The head drum major had a red outfit with a bearskin hat. The Napoleon band looked pretty sharp. They won quite a few rewards. We had Mike. He used to yell, “You no prac!” (laughs) I’d think, “Oh, Thank God he isn’t talking to me!” No, he’d get mad. He was a softie at heart, but . . .

CW: My oldest son went in to see him. He wanted to play in the band and said he wanted to play a trumpet. Mike says, “Let me look at you.” He took hold of his face on either side of his mouth and he said, “You play trump.”

DV: Well John Chappel was here for a while and he taught but he had also been drum major at University of Toledo or some place, and he was very good, and he had his uniform and he would march with us, like in the Firemen’s Convention. He would be ahead of our drum major and he would throw his baton over the street lights and catch it on the other side. So that was a real plus. It was fun to watch him. He didn’t always march with us but he did on some of the major things that we did, so we looked pretty smart.

CW: Where was your home?

DV: Well I was down on Monroe St. I was one of the East End kids, with all the Smalls, John Dietrich and all those guys, and the Cochrans. In fact, Phil and CP and Mary Lou, they lived right next door to us, Bob and Corine Cochran, for a long time until they moved up on Riverview. They built a house there. George was born there, so I didn’t know . . . well I know George because he’s my dentist but I didn’t know him as a little kid, ’cause he was . . .

CW: You’d be quite a bit older.

DV: Well he was born after my two oldest were born so he kind of came late in life, but you know we had Lee Helberg who was an engineer. Those guys are gone already. Dick Murray, the Murrays-where the Elks Club is, that was the Murray home. They had the Norwalk Truck Line. That was kind of a central place for Norwalk Truck and Carolyn was in my class. She and I used to sit in those big trucks and we were goin’ all over the world! (laughs) Their Dad would let us kids crawl in those. Then Dick, her brother was her youngest brother and she was Principal over at Delta Pike York School for a long time.

CW: Who was this?

DV: Carlyn Murray Schied. So, those are memories.

CW: How did you play as a child?

DV: Well I was a kind of tomboy. They didn’t know I was a girl for a long time. I was just as rough as the boys. I played football.

CW: That would be unusual back then.

DV: Oh I don’t know. There weren’t that many girls. I did play with Carlyn at times but mostly it was boys in our neighborhood. When they needed somebody to play football I played football.

CW: Why sure.

DV: They cracked into me just as hard as they did each other.

CW: Oh did they?

DV: Oh yeah!

CW: Didn’t break any bones or anything?

DV: No. Well I was always in pants anyway. I hated to put on dresses. My Dad always said that I was the feisty one. My brother was . . . I have a twin brother and he said they kind of got the personalities mixed up because I’d get in a fight and he was kind of laid back and didn’t want to get into a competition but I didn’t turn ’em down.

CW: That’s interesting.

DV: We had one kid in our neighborhood who used to bully us and scare the crap out of us so I and two other girls got ahold of him one day and we were on their porch and we told him we were going to pull his pants down. He was about four years older than we were. So we sat on him and we got his pants down to just about where things were gonna pop out and he started to bawl. I said, “If you ever chase us, do anything to us, we’ll catch you again and the next time we’ll pull ’em off and throw them in the street!” (laughs) So that’s the kind of kid I was.

CW: You know, I remember when I was in grade school we girls had this nice slide where the water had come down the eave spout and it had frozen. Well along came this ol’ boy and didn’t he throw ashes on it so we couldn’t slide on it anymore. It made me so mad I started after him and he ran. He ran to the door of the school but the door was locked. He couldn’t get in, so I caught up with him in that little anteroom and I grabbed his hair. He was way taller than I was but I got his hair and I started to pull and pretty soon he was beggin’ for mercy!

DV: I know. You have to take care of those boys. (laughs) Well we were close enough we could walk downtown so my Mother used to send us up to Spenglers for stuff. We’d roller skate up there; one winter we had ice. It froze. She needed something and I said, “Well I can go.” She said, “Well it’s pretty icy out.” So I put my ice skates on and I skated up to Spenglers. (pause to rest) It was that icy. (pause)

CW: Now the 20th Century is history, even the 21st Century-yesterday-is history, so it doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about long ago or not.

DV: Well when you think of the progress that’s been made in our lifetime, you know: goin’ to the moon and stuff like that. If you would have said that in the ’40’s they would have said, “Lock ’em up. They’re crazy!” They’ve made a lot of progress. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad. There’s something lost. You know, the kids can’t read nowadays ’cause they don’t have to learn to spell or anything else.

CW: Yeah, the computer does it. They don’t have to learn the multiplication tables or anything.

DV: No. My mother was a school teacher but she didn’t teach after she got married. But she was still the school teacher, the boss. I have to laugh at Jay Leno, when he’d ask “the man on the street.” You know Jay Leno asks some of these people, “Well what do you do?” “I’m in college. I’m going to be a teacher.” Well who’s the Vice-President of United States?” “I don’t know.” “Really! And you’re going to be a teacher?” It’s amazing. Some of these people sound illiterate. We grew up in a era when you had to read. I don’t so much anymore but I used to read all the time. I miss that. My eyesight isn’t that good.”

CW: What was the east side like when you were little? Was it different than it is now?

DV: Oh there were a lot of boys in that neighborhood. Of course you had the Small boys.

CW: Did Smalls have a big family too?

DV: Yeah. Bill Small, the older Bill Small from the original family, has written a book which is very interesting. It tells about the East End kids: Dietrich and Norm DeTray and some of them. Larry had that book and he gave it to me. He said, “You might find it interesting.” I said, “Heck yeah. I knew all those people.” So he’s kind of written a history of the East End kids. You might want to read that.

CW: Yeah, I’d like to.

DV: So that’s kind of a They had the history of John Bost whom they honored not too long ago. In fact I suggested to Larry, (he’s been the one who got started honoring past athletes so he’s been President of that for a while.) In getting that organized I said, “You should put John Bost in there. John was a heck of a good football player. He lived with his grandmother and I didn’t know whether he had any brothers or sisters or not, but Bill Small in Defiance knew him. He had a cousin Bob, who I knew, and they finally tracked Bob down and he came and accepted the award for John. John was killed in World War II. I knew a lot of those guys that were killed. You know, they were a couple classes ahead of us. So he was honored for which I was glad because he certainly deserved. He even played with a broken arm or finger or something. He wouldn’t give up on football.

CW: I was going to ask you too if your husband ever told you anything about Vocke’s Mill.

DV: Well, Bill wasn’t one to keep track of stuff. His grandfather started the mill. At one time the Vockes had a brewery down there at the end of Scott St. and then they sold that to Tiejens or somebody. Somebody else, Pilliods or somebody, had the mill where the original mill was and his grandfather, John H. bought that. And Lawrence ran it.

CW: Was Lawrence a brother?

DV: No, Lawrence was a son of John H. So they ran the mill and then Bill got into it. But the mill was like anything else. It was limited in how it would last ’cause bigger ones like Farmers’ Elevator got started and the farmers could have stock in that. They kind of put the smaller mills out of business. So Bill had to kind of close that one down. He said it didn’t bother him but I think it did.

CW: Oh. Was there an ice house close by too?

DV: Well that ice house used to be back of where the Wash ‘n Fill Station is. Yeah, I can remember that. I remember going down there and getting ice.

CW: Did you bring it home in a wagon or something?

DV: Well it depended on how much you got. They used to have the ice truck go around town and my mother had a card with different colors, whatever was up was what she wanted: 25 or 50 lbs. And she would turn up what she wanted. They would chip off the right size and take it up on our back porch. We had a refrigerator where they put the chunks of ice in and that’s how we kept stuff cold.

CW: The refrigerator was kept on the back porch?

DV: Yeah ’cause it had a water tray that we had to empty and they had a drain on the porch so we didn’t have to empty it as the ice melted. But it worked. I mean everybody had ’em then so I didn’t think anything about it. Our back porch was enclosed so it worked all right. You could keep milk and stuff there.

CW: And the milkman used to come every morning, didn’t he?

DV: Yeah. You had to watch it so it didn’t freeze and that’s when the cream would go to the top.

CW: If it did it pushed the cap way up. I remember that.

DV: They used to deliver milk too. Mom would set the bottles out if she needed it. We had to make sure we brought them in before they froze totally.

CW: Did they ever break the glass from freezing?

DV: I suppose they did but I wasn’t aware of it. I think they used to push the cap up from freezing. I used to go to my aunts. They had cows out on the farm. They lived in Tedrow-talk about a little town. I used to walk out there, which was about a mile or so and talk about a little town and I’d be over there and she kind of acted as a Grandparent to us because on my Dad’s side. . . he was the baby of the family and she always felt bad that we didn’t have grandparents so she-she was one of these older sisters-so she kind of acted like a grandma to us but she’d put the cream on our cereal. We’d say, “We can’t eat this.” She’d say, “Oh you’re just using that watered-down stuff you get from the creamery!” (laughs) She’d put pure cream on our cereal. It was too rich.
The small town that we used to visit was Tedrow on the other side of Wauseon.

CW: I wondered where that was: north of Wauseon?

DV: Yeah, I think so. You know, I can remember seeing the road but I think we probably went north. I know we only had to turn around the corner and we went by the fairgrounds so it was out that way. My uncle had a general store. Talk about a general store! He always had a candy case and every time we went over there we got sick. My Aunt Ellen could never figure it out but he was sneaking us bags of candy.

CW: And you’d eat every one. (laughs)

DV: He’d say, “Don’t tell I gave you this.” She never could figure out what was makin’ us sick. I can remember being in that store. He had a big cheese wheel and cold stuff on one side and on the other side he had coveralls, y’know and farm shirts and shoes, boots and what-have-you.

CW: Was there any hardware in the store?

DV: Probably. I was looking at the candy case mostly.

CW: (laughs) Not interested in that hardware.

DV: But that was only about a block from my aunt’s house so we used to go up there all the time. But he was a jolly guy. Just loved him. His mother was a Mennonite. I can remember when she was living with them but he never practiced their religion. My aunt was a Methodist so I got hauled to church. In those days Sunday was a big day. She had pies and stuff in the pantry because people came to call and you had coffee and served pie to anybody who was visiting. Can you imagine them doing that nowadays? They’ve got television and football. But that was a big deal on Sunday. I can remember that. She was a wonderful baker but then they’d sit and talk about whoever wasn’t there. She used to belong to a quilting bee and she’d drag me to that. I’d hear ’em chop up somebody that wasn’t there. I’m sitting there as a kid. I’d think, “Who are they talking about or why are they talking about her?” But those are just some of my memories.

CW: You know I remember women sitting and talking about certain people and they’d find out who their father was and their aunts and uncles and I’d think, “Why? Why do they want to know?” But once they got all that information then they knew a lot about that person.

DV: I guess. I don’t know. When they finally got the telephones and the party line they could find out a lot of stuff too. (chuckles) Well we gossip now too but we don’t go into detail like they did then. They didn’t have the distraction of television. Those were simple times. In a way they were a lot slower. My aunt was some canner. She must have canned everything that grew. Well that was a carryover from her upbringing. My Dad said, “We had a summer kitchen and all I can remember is her canning all summer.” Well they were a few miles to town and you didn’t just run into town to get something. Then my aunt decided that you could not set a table without that second spread of jelly or something. So she made a lot of jelly and stuff but she also canned a lot of stuff.

CW: You mean they wanted something beside butter as a second spread to put on the bread?

DV: Oh yeah. A second spread, which we didn’t need. Oh, she canned-she cold-packed chicken. We stopped over there on a Sunday and she’d throw a meal. She’d have a chicken out and whip out some biscuits have mashed potatoes and she’d have a whole meal, with all of that cold-packed. But that was a carryover from the farm days when you couldn’t run in to town for anything. My cousin finally bought her a freezer and three years after she died they still had stuff in there that she’d frozen and canned.

CW: Did she make pickles in the big pickle crock?

DV: Oh yeah. They had a huge garden. Everything in that garden went into cans and then they had chickens out in back. I remember they used to kill some of those big fat hens for Sunday dinner. My uncle’d tie their feet together and put it on the clothesline. He’d talk to them, “Now Uncle Mel doesn’t really want to do this.” Krrch! And the head would be off.

CW: Now their feet would be on either side of the clothesline and then the necks would be hanging down and then he’d grab the head I suppose and he’d cut it off, just like that?

DV: Yeah. Quick! He was merciful I guess, I don’t know. The chicken never came back to say how it felt. Well they had those big fat hens. They weighed 6 or 7 pounds. They didn’t have those little leghorns; they had those big ones. They were good, and they had in town. . . I know everybody had little chicken coops in the back of their house at one time.

CW: In town?

DV: In town. I know when we got to Washington St. Gomers lived back of us. They still had a chicken coop. They’ve made it into a garage now but it was a chicken coop at one time. They had chickens back there. Of course they’ve outlawed it now. You can’t have that kind of stuff.

CW: Why is that, I wonder? Health reasons?

DV: You get a lot of manure when you have animals, chickens and so forth. I suppose for health reasons. And they get pretty smelly, their manure, you know. But everybody had a little chicken coop and the whole town would smell. But we’d go out and get little fresh eggs. But now, my aunt lived across from the Creamery. She had a little chicken coop back there. She used to make stewed chicken, biscuits and stuff on Sunday, I remember as a kid going down there. It was all good.

CW: That was down by the canal, wasn’t it?

DV: No, Snyders are beside where the canal used to run through. No, I was on Front St. where the canal used to be but I’ll you what they used to have was carnivals down there.

CW: Carnivals?!

DV: Yeah, in back of the . . . well, the ground was low. Of course they’ve got Rte. 424 there now. That was all filled in. When I was a kid they used to have carnivals a lot in town. I remember one year . . . oh, I was in high school when they closed down Perry St. where the bank is, that section of Perry St. where the bank is-they’d have that closed off. They’d re-route traffic and have a carnival right down town, you know. They’d have a ferris wheel and what have you-pretty junky.

CW: Did they have clowns that would travel with them?

DV: Oh yeah, I suppose. I don’t know but it was a great place to meet people. Then on the corner where the Hahn Center is there was always a little red wagon and every summer they had popcorn. You could stop and get popcorn. It was real popular, especially on Saturday night. You’d smell that popcorn all over, so-that’s gone. They don’t have that red wagon anymore. I don’t know whatever happened to it. I think somebody had that kind of a popcorn thing.

Larry was going to bring it out to the pool when they had the Conference. Napoleon was noted for having good food when they had those big swim meets, Conferences. It was centrally located and the parents put on a really good feed. They’d have hamburgs and hot dogs. They’ve got grills. Neil Thomas keeps a lot of that stuff at his place. His kids have been through the swim thing. He and Pam help out if they have a Conference, so the parents raise a lot of money that way too. There’s a lot of things that are donated. They have, like, veggies and dip. You know kids like that stuff cause they’re in swim suits and rather than get dressed up and leave. You know, when they have a Conference it’s usually parked up pretty good. People don’t like to leave; they lose their spot. So they serve food there.

CW: Do they still have synchronized swim?

DV: I guess but that’s a different thing from competition swimming, which is what they do.

CW: The reason I asked is that Jean Campbell used to have costumes and everything .

DV: I know what you mean. I don’t know whether they still have that or not. That’s separate from the Aquatic Club.

CW: Yeah it would be. There wouldn’t be any racing in it.

DV: I know Larry knew about the Aquatic Club ’cause that’s the feed-in for his swim teams at the high school. As far as those that are coming up, their potential, he’s done an excellent job. He’s been there for about 30 years-29. He’s built that up. I don’t think anybody will ever reach his record. It seems like every year he can bring them around. He can get good swimmers into champions.

CW: He must have a kind of charm or something.

DV: He does. He can get nasty if he has to but he doesn’t usually. They just do it because they like it. There’s enough kid in him that they recognize it.

CW: That’d be kind of the attraction that Roger King used to have with the kids. They liked him and so they would . . .

DV: Well, Larry was good. He was Fourth in the state in ’50 freestyle, so he knows all about practicing, what it takes to get to the state. But he’s tough on his nephews.

CW: He is?

DV: Oh yeah. (chuckles) Somebody said, “Does he give him extra instructions?” I said, “No. He said the only excuse for missing practice was death.” They’d rather go and practice than listen to him. No, they worked very hard for what they did. He bent over backwards to keep from showing favoritism toward them.

CW: That’d be hard.

DV: Oh, it was hard.

CW: Hard on the kids and hard on him too probably.

DV: Yeah. Well he didn’t want any favoritism propping up.

(end of tape, Side A)

DV: They were going on to Bowling Green and he said, “Well Mom, I always try to have a rigatoni dinner-you know, for the kids that are goin’ on to District or whatever.” So Larry tried it one year. Afterwards he said, “What do you put in your meatballs?”

I said, “Why?” and he said, “Well I made meat balls and the kids made fun of them.”
I said, “What kind of seasoning do you put in them?” He said, “Just Italian seasoning.”

I said, “Nothing else?”

He said, “No, why? They were like golf balls. The boys made so much fun of those meat balls!” This was after Bill died and I said, “Well maybe next year I can help you out with that.” Well he moves in and I make the meatballs and I make the sauce and all that. He said, “Y’know, that turned out pretty good. Maybe I’ll just . . .” So I got stuck doing that for about 26 years. (laughs) I got my big mouth in there!

But it took us about 10-12 years to get the recipe down to the way he liked-he liked it kind of spicy. And Connie Wolfe has helped the last few years but that takes all day to do that. I said when it looks like a little volcano-clomp! Clomp!-the sauce is done. We put five pounds of ground chuck in the meats balls; we have-some years it’s 35 or so-so we have it down to a system and now his wife’s stuck with it. But the recipe’s all been figured out. We even have a printed grocery list so we know what to get.

CW: Do you have the recipe in your mind?

DV: Well, I was writing it down every year, you know, adjusting it till one year Larry said, “Hey, this is it!” So all I had to do was write it down, but it takes time. One year I got too many meatballs in it, and not enough sauce so the next year I cut down on the meatballs. We get a big jar of Prego and put those meatballs in it in a roaster with V8 juice. Then we always had garlic bread and that was, I think 8 or 10 loaves of that we always have to slice and put butter and garlic powder on, and then we do a carrot dip. But they look forward to it. All the Seniors get to go to it. But I got stuck with that, but that’s what you do.

(interrupted by an aid bringing water. End of tape.)

DeTray, Norm

Norm DeTray – His Own Story
BOYHOOD DREAMS

From my earliest memories, I was crazy about airplanes. If we were eating lunch or dinner, and I heard an airplane, I dropped every-thing and ran out to see whussup. My folks never batted an eye at this behavior — they knew my passion.

One whole summer, Jack Crahan & I built model airplanes in our garage — all day, every day. When we finished one, we took it up on our roof, wound her up, attached a firecracker to the nose, lit the firecracker and let ‘er rip. When you did this 5 times, you were an Ace.

My folks would say, “Why don’t you kids go outside and play?” We’d say, “Yeah, OK”, but we never did. We stayed in the garage and sniffed glue (not on purpose — sniffing was unadvoidable when you were building balsa model airplanes! But I learned a lot about airplanes that summer.

FLIGHT PREPARATORY SCHOOL, COLLEGE OF WOOSTER

The war started on Dec. 7, 1941 for the United States, when the dirty, yellow Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. This happened on a Sunday in the U.S., and I was at my current girl’s house. I remember thinking that my life was soon going to change.

I graduated from high school in June of 1942, and and started college at Ohio State in the Fall. But before I went to OSU, I took the exam for West Point, ending up as first alternate. I knew the guy that was first was sure to take it, so that left me with other plans to make.

My dad and I went uptown to visit Jimmy Donovan, a local attorney but more importantly a big wheel in the Democratic party. I was thinking about taking the exam for Annapolis, and these appointments required political pull. Jimmy said he thought I ought to try for the Navy V-5 program which could lead to pilot training. This sounded good, so I decided that’s what I’d do.

I started at OSU and shortly enlisted in the Navy V-.5 program. At that time, when you went to OSU, you had to take Army ROTC (OSU being a land-grant university). When the Navy learned about that, they said you can’t be in the Navy and take Army ROTC. On the other hand, Ohio State said I couldn’t continue at OSU WITHOUT taking Army ROTC!!

I know it sounds weird, but after talking to the Dean, it was determined that I would have to transfer! So after one quarter at OSU, I transferred to BGSU for the 2nd semester.

The Navy called me up in Aug. 1943, and I was assigned to Flight Prep School at Wooster.

They took no prisoners at Wooster. The first day, they sent us to Sick Bay where they had a double line of 6 Corpsman. You went thru the line and each one gave you a shot! Then to the PT field for push-ups. We all got sick that nite, and some guys actually tied themselves to the John all nite. This is the Navy?? Buy hey, no excuses the next day — they put us thru hours of PT.

We learned “close-order drill”, and since I had experience in the State Guard, I was made platoon leader. They had a football team that played a collegiate schedule and I went out for the team. So, I was the platoon leader of the “Football Platoon”. That was a wild experience, as this group was totally full of testosterone and were, in a word, ornery. But they seemed to like me OK. These guys had all played college ball, and I was no match. Just before the first game, I was cut. But, I was still Platoon Leader. I later was promoted to Battalion Commander. It was good that I got cut, as they were beating me up plenty. I did help some of the schoolastically challenged ball players, especially in Navigation Class. The tests were all multiple choice (5 possible answers to each question) and the chairs had 5 vertical pieces of wood to form the back. You can guess the rest. I got several guys thru Navigation Class by “scratching my back” on the proper piece.

We learned the Morse Code, Aircraft Recognition and Elementary Navigation. But mostly they worked our butts off in PT. I thought I was in shape, but this was brutal. One time, running high hurdles, I pulled a muscle and got put on report for dogging it when I continued to limp! Had to walk-off demerits. Tough, real tough.

WTS HELENA MONTANA, CARROLL COLLEGE
Helena, Montana, Queen City of the Rockies

WHY??

Why would the Navy have anything in Montana? There’s not a ship withing a thousand miles!

Well, I’ll tell you why: The Navy didn’t have enough air bases to absorb all the cadets they wanted. They were furiously building bases, such as the Corpus Christi complex, but in the meantime, they had to have some place to store us cannon fodder, so they started a thing called the War Training Service. The WTS’s were located at colleges around the country that had an airfield nearby. As a matter of fact, the Army Air Corps also utilized WTS services. They had civilian instructors, both academic and pilot training. But, we had one Navy guy as the “Skipper”, and another Navy guy who was the PT slave-driver.

The Skipper was a pilot who was wounded early in the War, and I think the Navy looked for a soft spot for him. I think I only saw him twice while at Carroll College. Word had it that he was a near-alcoholic.

But boy, we did see the PT officer!

it was all Navy guys at Carroll College — I don’t know what happened to any girl students. Carroll was a catholic school, and was all in one building when I was there.

We actually got some liberty while we were at Carroll. Helena was a pretty nice town, and God knows there weren’t any other military around, so we got prime treatment. About the best duty you could have and still be in the military.

My flight instructor was Warren Anderson, a civilian of course. In fact, the pilot instructors used their own planes for instruction. I always had the feeling that these guys made out real well financially, plus they got to fly all they wanted. He worked me hard, as he wanted me to be the first in class to solo. Ready or not, I made it!

PRIMARY TRAINING, Norman, Oklahoma

“REAL” FLYING

After Wooster, Helena, St. Mary’s, the next step was Primary Training at Norman, OK. This was my first exposure to real flying.

Primary was heavy on aerobatics and precision landings.

Aerobatics could easily produce “upchucking”. This was real embarassing, but when you’re in an inverted spin, all the force is up and out!

The Stearman Biplane was a real sturdy performer. No aerobatics were restricted, and we learned ’em all: loops, snap-rolls, barrel rolls, falling leaf, chandelles, immelmans, regular and inverted spins etc.

The Stearman had one big problem: the brakes were terrible! And with the ever-present wind in Oklahoma, you needed brakes in order to keep a straight line when taxiing. If you were taxiing in a cross-wind, forget it — you were going to “Ground Loop”. This means that the plane was going to go into a violent circle, and there was nothin’ you could do about it. I well remember seeing 30-40 planes aimlessly going in circles on the taxiway until enlisted men came out to walk ’em in.

1ST COCKY SOLO

After considerable dual instruction, the time came for us to go out solo. After all the hammering from instructors, this promised to be a lot of fun. We were just to go out in the general area and do nothin’ special.

Well, that wasn’t good enough for me and some of my other “hot” buddies — we had to go buzzing farm houses, cows and stuff. And of course, I got caught!

This was a serious offense I had violated a direct order, so this wasn’t at all funny. It resulted in a “CAPTAIN’S MAST”.

There are several levels of discipline forthcoming when you were in violation of some regulation, and a Captain’s Mast was pretty high up on the list. It was like a trial, with 3 officers acting as the judges. If they ruled against me, I would be washed-out of the air program, and go to enlisted status. Somehow, they let me stay, but I had major demerits to walk-off, and was restricted from liberty for a good long time. The only reason I can think of that made them go easy on me is that they had probably done the same thing!!

St. Mary’s Pre-Flight, St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California

St. Mary’s College was a truly beautiful place. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay in any of these beautiful buildings — the Navy had to build wooden barracks for the lowly Cadets.

There were about 4 pre-flight schools across the country, and since I had been in Montana, the logical place to send us was California.

Navy Pre-Flight was considiered among the toughest and most demanding of all military training. The Navy stressed physical training, and stressed it in spades.

For example, when we pulled in to St. Mary’s, the buses were instructed to drive around the running track. We we shocked to see guys in leg casts and on crutches trying to run around the track!

There were two places you went if you were hurt: Misery Hall and Agony Hall. If you were just sick or had bruises or other non-life threatening wounds, you went to Misery Hall. There was no getting out of regular PT if you only had to go to Misery. If you had serious sprains, broken bones or something sorta life-threatening, you went to Agony. Here they evaluated you to see what they thought you could do. Guys in casts that truly couldn’t run, were doing pull-ups or push-ups endlessly. You had to do something physical, no question asked. It was impossible not to be in good shape after leaving Pre- Flight!

DUMB AND DUMBER

This is truly one of the dumbest things I have ever done!

It was our last day at Pre-Flight, and we were mustering in company formation prior to going to dinner. Four of us decided that we would sneak out early and go to the student union for a real burger and shake. So we asked 4 other guys to shout “Aye” when our names were called.

All went well until one of the four guys had a personal message from his family that had to be delivered to him personally. No dice. He wasn’t there!

So they had a complete stoppage of all activity and went over the roster one-by-one until they absolutely knew who was missing. The whole battalion was late for supper.

When we got back to the barracks we were told what happened. Tomorrow was Graduation Day for God’s sake! We hid in the shower, but the cadet officer of the day found us and told us to report to the Officer of the Day. I thought we were finished.

The officer sentenced us to 4 hrs. of demerits, which had to be marched-off that nite yet. But I was overjoyed to march for 4 hrs. & not get washed-out! Dumb and Dumber for sure!!! Graduation was nice!!!

We knew when we graduated from St. Mary’s Pre-Flight we would get 2 weeks leave. Many of us were from the East, so how were we gonna get home?

Well, the Union Pacific Railroad had our answer. One of their representatives came out to St. Mary’s to give us the scoop. Boy, it sounded good! We would have our own car and could take our meals in the Club Car. He assured us that it would be nice and deluxe. OK, problem solved.
When it came time to depart the train station, we found our car. It had to be the oldest car still rolling. It had a coal furnace in the middle of it! This was supposedly for use when we went over the Rockies, where it got mighty cold. We were also sorta led to believe that our car would be a “sleeper”, and what a joke that was. It was a real old fashioned coach with very uncomfortable seats, and this was what we had to go to Chicago in.

One of the guys had worked a short time for a railroad, and he knew how to dismantle the seats so they could be laid out in sort of a bed — at least we could get horizontal. We were pretty miffed at our treatment, and proceeded to dismantle the seats, and sorta dismantled the whole car.

The conductor was horrified at what we had done to that car. In fact, he locked us in so that we couldn’t get to the dining car! We stopped at some town along the way, and the USO provided us with box lunches, or else we might have starved.

It was a 3-day trip to Chicago. On the 2nd day, the John plugged up, of course. What a mess! Guys were going out the window or wherever. By the time we got to Chicago, we were savage!

Thank God the train I took from Chicago to Defiance had a wash-room so I could get cleaned up a little, lots I still needed a shave. I wasn’t a pretty sight by the time I got home. So much for deluxe train travel on the Union Pacific.

When we got ready to do our carrier landing qualifications, we went to a little port on the east coast of Florida called Mayport. We were to board a Destroyer Escort for transport out to the carrier.

We were Navy Men, right? Not exactly old salts, but Navy nontheless. A Destroyer Escort is not a very big ship, and she rocked a lot right at the dock. About half our guys never stopped walking when they boarded the DE, and headed straight for the HEAD, where they dutifully UPCHUCKED! What a way to start!

‘Way back at the beginning of all this, a carload of us went to Detroit for our Navy physicals. The night before the physicals, of course, we went out on the town. Consequently, the next morning we couldn’t pass the eye test! They told us to come back in the afternoon and try again. Well, what’s good for eye problems? Carrot juice is good for eye problems. So we got several jugs of carrot juice, went back and PASSED!!

At BGSU, I got acquainted with some other guys that had enlisted in the V-5 Program. We had a Navy liaison officer at BGSU whose main job was recruiting, but he was also there to assist guys like us were waiting to be called up. He told us we could form our own squadron and could go thru all the training together and go out to the fleet together. Boy, this sounded great, so we formed The Flying Falcons.

We all went to Wooster together. They were all football players, so we were in the same platoon there. What a nice deal! We would look out for each other, and generally build up Espirit de Corps.

What a joke! When we completed Wooster the Flying Falcons were scattered to the 4 winds and I never saw any of them again! The Navy Way.

One of my best buddies all thru training was Tommy Davis. Tommy had gone to Kent State, and was a gymnast. He was about the best-lookin’ guy I ever knew. Anyhow, since our names were close alphabetically we were generally in the same room, or close by.

But Tommy had a problem. He didn’t have a middle name. The Navy said ‘You have to have a middle name”. Tommy kept telling them that he didn’t have one. So, they gave him one. Actually, they weren’t worried about having a middle name as such, but you had to have a middle initial. So they gave him “L” as a middle name. Every time he signed his name, he had to write it as Thomas “L” Davis. I wonder if he continued to use “L” in later life…

The Navy issued you a Sea Chest, which was a big, green chest, to carry all your clothes and stuff. When I transferred to the West Coast after JaK, we went to a little base south of San Diego. My chest didn’t show up. Weeks went by, but no chest. I was getting desperate for clothes!

It came time to transfer to northern California, eventually to go to VernaIlls. When we went to the train station in San Diego to make the move, I SAW my sea chest with a bunch of other luggage going where we were going. I couldn’t get at it, but at least I knew it was in California, and maybe even stood a good chance of going where I was going! I finally caught up with it later.

At Norman, Oklahoma, one time I went up to the 2nd floor of our barracks to see someone. I was walking down the aisle between the beds when I saw a picture of a girl on some guys’ locker door. It was a glamor shot of Mary Helen Pohlman from Napoleon! Mary Helen was a real beauty, and was a Golden Girl for the Purdue band. So I hung around until the owner showed up. Turned out to be a guy who had gone with Mary Helen at Purdue. Small World Department.

Tommy “L” had a very steady girl back home in Cleveland. When we were at Norman, OK, we got a coupla’ weeks leave, and Tommy and I arranged to meet up in Chicago to make the train-trip back to Norman.

Tommy didn’t look good — pale and absolutely no pep. When we got to Norman, he checked into sick-bay His nurse turned out to be a former competetive swimmer, a big, good lookin’ women probably 10 years older than Tommy. She liked Tommy — she liked Tommy a LOT. She pretty well knew what Tommy’s problem was, and gently nursed him back to health. I won’t tell you his medical diagnosis, but you can guess.

While I was in the Navy, at least part of the time, I was going with one of the Marilyn’s. Not the one I married, but that’s another story. Anyhow, this Marilyn worked as a telephone operator here in Napoleon. When I was in Florida, I used to call her often, and we talked for hours. Somehow I was led to belived that she could “lose” the charges. Not so. When I got home on leave, my sister-in-law Jean infomed me that a pretty big bill had been paid. Jean kept books for my dad. and somehow she ivaaled the charges into his business account!

NAS CORPUS CHRISTI
Corpus Christi, Texas

Advanced Training at Corpus Christi was a major goal of all the grief that went before. There were 2 advanced training complexes; Pensacola, Fla. and Corpus Christi. Since I completed Primary at Norman, OK, I was closest to Corpus, and that’s where I went.

“Corpus Christi” was really several air fields spread around about a 50-mile radius. The picture is of the main base, and I never flew out of there. At the main base, it was all ground-school and PT. We were introduced to Radar, which was super-secret at the time. The security at the class where we studied Radar was intense. We also studied Aerology, which was the Navy’s term for meteorology. Aerology and I didn’t get along well at all and I didn’t pass. This meant that I would get another chance somewhere along the line.

Transferred to NAS Cabiness (Imtermediate in Vultee Vibrator), then to Advanced at NAS Kingsville (SNJ “Texan”), then to NAS Beeville (SBD “Dauntless” dive bomber) It was at Beeville that my problem with Aerology returned.

This requires some explanation. After all the months of heavy PT and Ground School, the only thing standing in the way of getting my Wings & Commission was this stupid Aerology exam. I wasn’t the only one –there about 10 of us who had one more chance.

I don’t remember how, but one of the guys obtained the “Gouge” for all 5 of the possible Aerology tests. You didn’t know which one of the five you would end up with. They were all multiple choice. I’m not proud of this, but I took a 6-sided regular yellow pencil, and on each of 5 sides, using a knife, I carved in ALL THE ANSWERS FOR ALL THE TESTS!! This took awhile, but time wasn’t important. When we took the test, I determined which of the 5 I had, and turned the pencil to that side. I was done in minutes, but stayed there for an hour or more. I also purposely missed a couple, but believe me. I PASSED AEROLOGY!!!!

OPERATIONAL: Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida

CHANCE OR CHOICE

Just before we were to graduate, get our wings and commission at Corpus, 4 of us made a little trip at night to the office where they made out your next assignment. Ordinarily, this was a random choice by the Navy: Multi-Engine, Dive Bombers, Torpedo Bombers, or Fighters. We wanted Fighters. Corsair Fighters at that.

We had heard that there was a nice little gal that worked in this office, and that she could be swayed. So we “swayed” her with a bottle of good booze, and by golly, we all got assigned to Corsair Fighters! What a stroke of luck!

We had 3-4 days delay enroute from Corpus to Jax, so we spent them in New Orleans. What with commissions, Wings of Gold and our general good looks (hah!), we felt really HOT. It took us a day to get into a decent hotel, The Roosevelt, but it was worth it.

LOOK AT THAT!!!

Shortly after we got checked into Jax, we went down to the flight line to look at the planes. My God, how beautiful the Corsair looked to us!! We all had our hearts set on flying this bird since Flight Prep School, and here it was! “Boy, it’s Big!!”; “How the heck do you see in front of you?” We were soon to find out.

THE ROTTEN MARINE

Lo and behold! Who showed up with us for Operationa!’. The Rotten Marine from Beeville!! He was very much the pussy-cat now, ‘cuz he knew we hated his guts. I think he was afraid we’d shoot him down the first chance we got, and he was close to being right!. We told him he should always be nice, ‘cuz you never knew who would be on his tail!

“THE CORSAIR”

My love affair with the mighty Corsair,
Started out with a bit of doubt!
Could I fly this big bad awesome thing?
Did I have the guts to find out?

Some called it “Hose Nose” (a loving term)
Because of it’s extra long snout.
To others, it was “Bent Wing Bird”
Or “Birdcage” (I can’t see out!!)

To most it was the “F4U”,
With a mind all of it’s own!
The first few hops, the plane flew you,
A bit of a “twilight-zone”!

Although it’s over 50 years,
Since my initial flight,
I won’t forget that feeling,
Great excitement—mixed with fright!

“Cleared for take off’ said the tower,
Am I finally ready to go?
I locked the tail-wheel—Added power,
I really didn’t know!

Be still my heart, go back to your place,
Why are you up here, so close to my face?
Look straight ahead, can’t see a thing,
Look right and left, look at the wing.

At 90 some knots, the tail comes up,
By George there’s a runway I see,
I’m now off the ground, the wheels come up,
What’s wet?—did I take a pee?

The field is dropping away quite fast,
I just pulled up the flaps,
The gauge reads over 2000 feet,
I’ve got it made–perhaps?

2000 horses working hard,
That purring sound is sweet,
Was on the ground five minutes back,
And now—10,000 feet!

Down wheels and flaps, ease the stick back,
Time to practice a landing stall,
Try landing on a fluffy cloud-bank,
Hell, this ain’t bad at all.

Let’s do that again; go for another stall,
Down wheels and flaps,
Holy Smoke, no action at all!!
Hydraulic failure. could this be Taps?

My instructor flew up to take a look,
“Try it again, both wheels and flaps”,
So I did it just by the book,
“She’s busted for sure, you gotta bum rap.”

“Pump the Wobble Pump, see if that helps,
Jeeze, you gotta pump it harder than that!”,
“They’re comin’, they’re comin”‘ he said with a yelp
And brother, I pumped, with nary a gap.

“The wheels are down” I said with a shout,
But no flaps for my first landing?
What’s this all about?

Well, they cleared NAS JAX for me alone,
For a straight-in approach, which I’d never done,
But when you’re desperate, you grab any bone!
You get pretty inventive when under the gun!

You can’t stall her out without any flaps,
You fly it in and keep the speed up,
I lined her up with a 3 mile gap,
To the end of the runway, no if, and, or buts.

My instructor flew wing,
Told me just what to do,
Wheels contacted ground, I felt like a king,
And that’s my experience with an F4U.
(With help from “Anonymous”)

THRILLS SPILLS AND MISTAKES

ROLL HER HOME

We had been out over the Atlantic for gunnery practice. For gunnery practice, they had a medium bomber trail a target sleeve, a long distance behind the bomber, of course! We were returning to base after practice, in formation about like the above.

For some reason, I was feeling particularly “hot” by this time. We were fairly well along in the F4U training, and I thought I was “Top Gun”.

Rather than join up with the other 2 guys as in the picture, I decided to barrel-roll around the 2 planes. The F4U was especially good at this.

The first roll was so much fun, I decided to “roll all the way home”, so I did. I’m not sure what the other guys thought.

SLIPSTREAM

My squadron of 6 planes was returning to NAS Jax after a training mission. We were in right echelon, and each plane peeled off in succession to land. There was not supposed to be much interval between planes.

As the Corsair had the biggest engine and biggest prop of any U.S. fighter, it produced tremendous slipstream. Usually the wind blew the slipstream off the runway.

But this was an especially still day— little did I know that the previous plane’s prop wash was still right above the runway. I found out, though!

As I rolled out to land at about 50 feet off the runway, all of a sudden I was rolled completely on my left side. AtI this point, pure reaction took over, and I threw the stick full right. I no sooner finished this manoeuver than I was on the runway, like nothin’ had happened. But believe me, somethin’ HAD happened!!

HIGH SIDE

One of the gunnery approaches we used was called he “High Side”. In this approach, you get about 1000′ higher than the target sleeve and a little ahead.

Then you peel off and dive towards the target, urning to parrallel the target the closer you get. When ou get within range, you are coming in on his rear uarter, still in a dive, and then you fire as long as the arget is in the sight.

You build up a lot of speed on this approach, and fter firing, you pull back on the stick to recover. We idn’t have “C” suits, so all the blood went towards your eet, and you “blacked out”. This didn’t last long, maybe 10-15 seconds as you pulled out and climbed back to ltitude.
One time, when I finally got my vision back, I found hat I was in the shade! Odd, because there ain’t no hade over the ocean. I looked up, and there was an SB2C about 10 feet over my head! I was in HIS shade! Close. real close. maybe the closest thrill of all.

HOOKS, WIRES & BARRIERS

Carrier Landings were, of course, the ultimate in Naval Aviation. A lot of Navy pilots never qualified, for one reason or another. But, if you wanted to fly fighters, you had to qualify for carrier landings.

We qualified on the USS Guadacanal, an escort carrier, a “Kaiser Coffin” or “Jeep Carrier”. The reason it earned this name was that it was built on merchant-ship bottoms by the Kaiser Corp. The Guadacanal had a flight deck that was 477′ long and 80′ wide. To give you an idea of size, the Corsair’s wingspan was 41′ so there wasn’t a LOT of room side-to-side. And God knows, there wasn’t much length — 477′ is like one and a half football fields. This ain’t a lot of room to land a 400 mph fighter.

The deck had about 7 arresting wires, or cables stretched across the deck. The wires were hydraulically controlled so that they would “give” when hooked. The amount of “give” each cable had was dependent on it’s location on the deck. The first wire was quite forgiving, the second tighter etc. and the last wire was really tight. Then, there was a barrier also made of cables, which could be erected in a split second. The barrier was at the end of the wires, and was the last resort to keep a plane from going into the drink.

You had to land tail-first so the hook could engage. From the very first flight in the T-Craft, we were instructed to land tail-first. This is the “Navy Way”.

Sometimes when landing on the canner, it was possible to bounce over several wires before engaging one. I had one friend that bounced over all the wires, and hit the barrier. Beat up the plane a little, but he was OK.

Due to the huge engine and prop that the Corsair carried, it produced tremendous engine torque. This torque caused the left wing to drop when in a stall condition. They even added a “spoiler” to the right wing to kinda’ compensate for this, but it wasn’t totally effective.

When the Landing Signal Officer gave you the cut-off to land, the action was that you pushed the stick forward and then immediately pulled it back, and of course zero throttle. Due to the narrow deck, the landing crew had nets alongside the deck that they could dive into if a plane was off-center. On one of my landings, I apparently was just a little high, and when I got the cut-off, popped the stick etc., the left wing dropped! Crew members on the left side bailed into the nets, as did the LSO. Buy hey, I wasn’t that bad! I caught an early wire and everything was cool as far as I was concerned! Anyway, it counted as a successful landing. A carrier landing was commonly called a “Controlled Crash”, and in a sense, it was. There was no adding throttle to go around again, as you were in a completely stall condition. You either caught a wire or crashed into the barrier.

MARKING TIME

I was home on leave after Corsair training in the Summer of ’45 when the “A” Bomb_was dropped. There was a humongous celebration in Napoleon and everywhere else on “VJ Day”. You grabbed a girl (any girl!) and celebrated ’till the wee hours of the morning.

Downtown Napoleon was completely plugged with people, cars, trucks etc. You couldn’t move. The bad news is that they closed the bars. The good news is that they closed the bars!
When my leave was over, I was assigned to the west coast for Night Carrier Landing training, which I wasn’t especially looking forward to, as you can imagine. But when I got to California there was a certain amount of chaos. They didn’t know whether to continue our training, send us out to the fleet to replace pilots already there, or what.

They finally decided NOT to send us out as replacements. This meant that we really had nothing to do, except play basketball all day. No flying. Bummer!

I was finally transferred to NAS Vernalis, a small base near Modesto. Again, there was nothin’ to do. It was so dull that 4 of us went into Modesto and took jobs in the local fruit exchange manhandling boxes of fruit!

This was strict y illegal as ar as the Navy went, but the fruit exchange was desperate for help and didn’t ask any questions.

SPORT FLYING

Eventually, we were given the chance to get our flight-time at Vernalis. You had to get 4 hrs. per month to earn your flight pay, which was an added 50% over base pay.

This was when I met the “Hellcat” up close and personal. This plane was the “other” first-line Navy fighter. It was slower than the Corsair, but way more forgiving. It had been designed to combat the Japanese “Zero” fighter, which was a real agile fighter. You could do maneuvers in the Hellcat that you wouldn’t consider doing in the Corsair. The Corsair was near impossible to get out of an inverted spin, for example. So you didn’t do anything that might get you in an inverted spin.

The Hellcat didn’t have these restrictions. I did a lot of acrobatics in the Hellcat that I hadn’t done since the SNJ days. There was no assigned training, you just went out and flew around doing whatever. It truly was Sport Flying.

HOMEWARD BOUND.

As I mentioned before, when the bomb was dropped, the whole Naval Air program came to a halt. They literally didn’t know what to do with us.

Eventually they came out with a point system to establish if you were elgible for discharge. Since we were bored stiff, this seemed like a good idea and I was elgible. I thought long and hard about staying in the Navy (I would have been retired for about 40 years!) but finally decided to take the discharge.

I well remember packing up to leave NAS Vernalis. My closet had a shelf just a little bit higher than my head, and every month when I got paid, I threw a hundred dollar bill up on that shelf. As I was pulling shirts and stuff off that shelf, the hundred dollar bills were fluttering to the ground! I remember thinking “It’ll be a long time, if ever, that I will see 100 dollar bills fluttering to the floor”. And, I was right.

I was transferred to Great Lakes Naval Air Station near Chicago for discharge. Unfortunately, they were real bears on us turning in our watches, leather flight jackets etc. They were formal, right to the end. I had lost a winter flight helmet somewhere along the way, and they threatened to withhold my discharge! I offered to PAY for it, but they wouldn’t hear of it. I finally had to sign all kinds of legal documents to get out of there and on home.

ROUND THE BEND

Here’s some stuff that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else. But I couldn’t leave it out.

While at Beeville we had a pretty funny thing happen. We had a Marine lieutenant who was the permanent Officer of the Day. This guy was a pilot, and this was a really lousy assignment. But well deserved, as this guy was a complete ass.

The reason he was permanent Officer of the Day was because he had run into a fuel tanker while taxiing his SBD Dauntless. This, was his discipline while he awaited trial.

This guy was really rotten. When Taps came at 10 PM, he would check the barracks to see if anyone was still up in violation of Lights Out. To disguise just where he was in the hall-way, he took one shoe off!! This allowed him to run down the hallway quickly, but if you counted his steps, he was well away from your room.

We got even with him, though. Every time he would walk past outside our barracks, we would holler out the window; “Hit a truck??? How’n the hell did he hit a truck?? Well, he would come charging in, but there was no way to tell where the “cheer” came from!!

At Wooster, one of the guys was a last-year football star at Wooster! He was a super guy, and had a lot of info about Wooster.

One of the very first things they had us do upon arrival the first day was to go to the pool to see how well we could swim. Well, this guy COULDN’T swim. He told the officers in charge that he couldn’t swim, but they wouldn’t listen.

Several of us told him we would stand at alert, and when he started to sink, we would pull him out. Sure enough, he jumped in and started to go down, and we violated our first order by jumping in to save him. You had to be able to swim to be in the Aviation Program, and he worked like a dog until he could at least dog-paddle, which was enough to get him by. The Navy didn’t like to listen to your problems!!

Wooster again: After a few weeks of isolation, we finally got liberty. Most of us lived in Ohio, and we wanted to go home to show off our uniforms etc. The train route was from Mansfield to Lima, where I would arrange for someone to pick me up.

Local civilians with cars, wanting to make a little extra money, would line up just outside campus to take us to Mansfield. Timing was critical, and there really wasn’t enough time to make the train schedule at Mansfield. But they guaranteed delivery, and drove 80 and 90 mph with a car-load of cadets. I guess it was worth it, but boy, it was scary. We just scooched down in the seat and closed our eyes.

Sorta the same thing in Helena. Carroll College was on the edge of Helena. When we got liberty, civilian cars would take us to a really nice nite-club, maybe the only one in Helena. They had an organ player for music, and he was pretty good. But mostly, they had booze!!

We had to be back at midnite. About 10 minutes till 12, the civilian cars would line up outside the nite-club. Once we didn’t make it. This was serious. Beaucoup demerits, again!!

THE ENSIGN ELIMINATOR

“The first production F4U-1 made its first flight on June 25, 1942. The USN received its first aircraft on July 31, 1942.

Overall handling of the F4U-1 was acceptable, but not very good. In level flight the Corsair was stable enough to be flown hands-off. The ailerons were light and effective, and the high roll rate was used with good effect in combat. The elevators were heavy but effective. Only the rudder really stiffened with increasing speed. For combat maneuvering, the flaps could be deployed 20 degrees.

After the first delivery of an F4U-1 on July 31, 1942, more than two years passed before the US Navy cleared the type for shipboard operations. The Corsair was found to be much too difficult to land on a carrier deck. First of all, the pilot could hardly see the deck, because he sat so far aft of the bulky engine. The F4U tended to stall without warning, and was then certain to drop the left wing. Quick action had to be taken to prevent a spin. Spin recovery was difficult. On touchdown, the F4U-1 had sluggish controls and insufficient directional stability. It also was prone to “bounce” because of overly stiff landing gear oleo legs.”

(Some of these faults were corrected in later versions, primarily a change in the landing gear to reduce stiffness.)

“The F4U is often said to have been the most successful fighter of WWII. This is based on a claimed 11 to 1 kill ratio: 2140 enemy aircraft shot down for a loss of 189.”

The US Navy finally accepted the F4U for shipboard operations in April 1944, after the longer oleo leg was fitted, which finally eliminated the tendency to bounce. The increasing need for fighters, as a protection against Kamikaze attacks,resulted in more Corsair units being moved to the carriers.”

Delventhal, Walter

Interviewed by Marlene Patterson, November 16, 2007

We are beginning an oral history of Walter Delventhal (WD). Walter was the owner of the Delventhal Blacksmith Shop located in Gerald, Ohio in the 1950’s. Walter followed in his father’s occupation following the death of his father Herman. Walter learned the blacksmith trade from his father starting at an early age by helping him in the blacksmith shop. Walter has since retired. Walter and his wife Lucia (LD), Russell Patterson (RP) and I (MP) are sitting at Walter and Lucia’s dining room table visiting. They have built a new home in the country on their farm on County Road T.

MP: Walter, can you tell me where you were born?

WD: I and my sister Mary Ann were both born at home in Gerald.

MP: I ran into my birth certificate the other day and I see where Dr. J.J. Harrison delivered me. I think the rest of my sisters and brothers were born at home in Gerald also.

LD: Most children were delivered by Doc Delventhal or even by Ida Gerken.

MP: Wasn’t she like a midwife.

LD: Ida was here with us when we had our tonsils out.

MP: What we are doing is interviewing people like Walter who were early business men. I am interested in early businesses in the Gerald area and I know you qualify.

WD: Walter laughs!

MP: Well, weren’t you? This interview will be put on the Henry County Historical Society’s web sit. You will be able to click on Walter Delventhal and there will be your life story right before your eyes.

LD: So be careful what you say Walter.

MP: Did you remember my mother Walter, or were you too little. She died in 1941.

WD: Yes I remember her. You were just a little girl. She was a nice lady, Gerald was in shock.

MP: She died in April of 1941, and I was 5 1/2 years old.

WD: You know your dad built that house there where you lived in Gerald. Do you remember that old house?

MP: Yes I do, and that old house went across the street next to your house.

WD: Right. When they moved that old house from Naomi and put it there in Gerald where you lived. I remember seeing them move that old house because I was just a little boy four or five years old. That was something exciting to see. You don’t see a house being moved like that every day. That is where your mother Ruth and John lived.

MP: I remember Daddy telling about them moving the house right through the fields. About what year would that have been?

WD: Around 1928 -1930.

MP: See my brother Kenny was born in 1928. Do you remember what was there before they brought in that old house?

WD: It was an empty lot. It belonged to your Grandpa Gerken’s farm.

MP: I should have brought that picture. Bill Von Deylen came up with a picture that shows the Bindemans’ house there on the edge of town and then it is all empty farmland. There is not a thing there. So that picture was taken even before that house was moved there next to Bindemans’. It’s a real old photo.

WD: Do you know where Bindemans’ house was?

MP: Yes

WD: Right next door was that long building. That belonged to Badenhops’.

MP: Which Badenhops?

WD: It was Don Badenhop’s grandfather.

MP: How long did that saloon operate then?

WD: They were there a long time. They were there in 1920 when that tornado went through there. That was a two story building.

MP: Do you know what I remember. Was there a Witte that ran the saloon?

WD: No, he lived there. See him and Albert Meyer he worked for your grampa. He farmed the land.

MP: Do you mean Albert Miller?

WD: No, Albert Meyer. He was a bachelor, and he never got married. He lived upstairs there. See that was a long building.  I used to, see Henry Witte, my mom she would make soup and stuff and I would have to take it over there to him. There was a bedroom and the kitchen was in the front. I think your dad bought that later on.

MP: He did, and I can tell you why. The people that rented and lived upstairs would just throw their garbage out the window and it would land on our driveway. Daddy got so mad.

WD: There were some Welsteds that lived up there and he had spent some time in prison already and he ran a garage downstairs in that building.

MP: Do you mean a car repair business? Did he have gas pumps?

WD:  No, he didn’t have gas pumps. Welsted was his last name. I used to go over there, I was just about seven or eight or maybe ten years old and he told me he could make a chain out of a piece of wood. He could just carve it out and it would wind up being a chain. He told me that he would make those when he was in prison. He had an old wood stove in there and he burned coal. They sold coal at the elevator and they all suspicioned him of stealing coal from your grandfather at the elevator. They were watching him because he was a prime suspect. I know because Dad caught him in our wood shed one time and he was stealing coal there.

MP: How else are you supposed to get coal? He probably thought he could get away with it, and no one would miss a little bit of coal.

WD: After that John Norden he had a garage before your dad bought the building and I would go over there and John would let me work on Model A Fords. He would loosen the bolts and the two of us would work on those cars. I really enjoyed that.

MP: You know you were just like Bill Von Deylen as a little boy running around Gerald and Bill told me some of the wildest things that he did. It’s like Wow!

WD: Yes, I helped.

MP: Did you run around with Bill?

WD: He is about the same age as Kenny.

MP: He was a little younger then.

WD: Right, about two or three years younger. Kenny and my sister Mary Ann and Bill Von Deylen were the same age. All three were born in 1928.

MP: Wasn’t Mary Ann your sister, Rosella’s age?

WD: No Rosella was younger. Jeannette comes in there before. Mary Ann and Kenny were the same age.

MP: Okay. Now let’s get back to your father.

WD: You mean Herman.

MP: Yes, was he a brother to Bill Delventhal? Who were the Delventhals that lived east on Road U? They had a son named Willie.

WD: He was my dad’s brother.

MP: So your dad Herman and Bill Delventhal were brothers.

WD: My dad learned the blacksmith trade in Germany. He did his apprenticeship in Germany. In fact I have his diploma here. He served two years in the German army. Then he lived in Holland for a couple of years working with threshing machines. He made them. Then he decided to come over here to America. He had two uncles and an aunt living here and they more or less sponsored him to come over here.

MP: Who were the uncles?

WD: Henry Bischoff’s dad.

MP: Do you remember his name?

WD: Yes, it was Henry Bischoff.

MP: What were the names of your other uncle and aunt?

WD: Herman Bischoff and Minna Gerken.

MP:  And they sponsored your father to come here to America. Where in Germany was your father born?

WD: He was born in Bothel, in N.W. Germany.

MP: Do you know Lucille Sunderman. She would be able to tell you exactly where Bothel is.

WD: Yes I know her. In fact Minna was Mrs. Gerken, like Arnold Gerken and Alfred Gerken, their mother. She was a Bischoff. She was my dad’s aunt. She more or less took him in. Then when he got here your grandpa John Gerken, he had the blacksmith shop, then my dad started working for him and that is where he stayed. Then after your granddad sold the blacksmith shop. Bill Von Deylen, that’s Bill’s grandpa he took over the blacksmith shop and Dad kept working there. Then Harry’s dad Bill started the implement business.

MP: You mean Harry’s father Bill Von Deylen? He sold seed corn and clover seed and things like that right?

LD: Yes, they cleaned the clover seed there too.

WD: That is when my dad took over the blacksmith shop.

MP: Do you remember about what year that was?

WD: About 1923-25.

MP: I only remember your dad Herman ever being there. I am trying to piece together all these other people who at one time owned the blacksmith shop. My dad had a wood box that contained toe caulks. These were used to keep horses from slipping on the ice. They were pounded into the bottoms of the horse shoes. On the outside of the wood box is painted the name of George Von Deylen. It contained a shipment of toe caulks. It doesn’t have a return address painted on, only the destination which was the Von Deylen Blacksmith Shop in Gerald. That was one of the items my dad thought I should have and save and he made certain I knew what toe caulks were. He also gave me a mule shoe, which is real tiny. He found that in a shipment of coal that came by rail to the Gerald Elevator. Years ago the coal mines used small mules to load coal out of the mines and into the rail cars and I suppose a mule lost his shoe and it just got shoveled into the rail car and ended up with the coal delivery in Gerald. I treasure that shoe. Would that George Von Deylen painted on the outside of the box be the same George Von Deylen that had the implement shop in downtown Napoleon.

WD: Yes, they were first cousins. George Von Deylen and Harry Von Deylen.

MP: George started the implement business in downtown Napoleon.

WD: Yes, he had the hardware store in downtown Napoleon and his implement business was in the back of the hardware store.

MP: Did you see Bill Von Deylen’s St. John’s tape of the George Von Deylen parade of his tractors with iron lugs.

WD: There is a picture of tractors parked along side of the grandstand.

MP: I think we will have to show this video to you.

RP:  This video was taken in 1942 at St. John’s field day. It shows Mr. Gefeke, Mr. Bunsold, Miss Louise Schick and many more church members.

MP: You will be able to identify many of the people in this video. You would have been in the 8th grade and I was in the 1st grade. There is a nice picture of Pastor Zschoche of St. Paul’s and Miss Schick. There is a picture of Herman Badenhop with his pipe in his mouth. That is the way I remember him.

RP: There is a picture of you Lucia. I remember your Dad and Mother, and your sisters.

MP: There is a lot of Freedom Twp. farmers in that video that you would know who they were. Some of them I can recognize but most of them I don’t know. There is a picture of Luella Dehnbostel holding a small child. That would have to be her baby maybe Carol. We need some help to identify these people. One of the ladies is a Mrs. Behnfeldt. She lived just north of the School.

WD: That would have been Mrs. August Behnfeldt. Your Grandpa Gerken made that desk that I have right here in my living room.

MP: I don’t doubt you. He made a lot of furniture for people around here.

WD: He only charged me $35.00.

MP: At least you didn’t have to buy it at an auction.

WD: He made it in his chicken coop which was behind his house.

RP: He made hall trees. They were nice heavy ones.

WD: Do you remember when the bee shed burned?

MP: Yes, I remember that. I found a pocket knife the day after. The knife had the name Barlow on it. I suppose a fireman or somebody else dropped it. I gave it to my dad.

WD: It was on a Monday night just before supper. I was in the blacksmith shop.

RP: I should bring that. You see my mother was a Bernicke.

WD: Then your grandfather was a blacksmith.

RP: I have his apprenticeship papers from Germany. In about 1912 right along in there they had a blacksmith meeting at that hall in Gerald. They took a picture of all the blacksmiths and their families. You might be able to recognize some of the blacksmiths. Your dad might be on it. My grandfather was there, plus a group of other blacksmiths.

WD: Was Matt Becker there?

RP: I didn’t recognize him. I think the picture was taken before he arrived in America.

MP: Go on with the fire.

WD: It was about quitting time for me, and I had been to a wedding on Sunday night and I was glad it was quitting time because I wasn’t feeling too good. And Ed Bindeman came running in to the blacksmith shop and said John’s bee shed is on fire. Your grampa was in the house and do you remember he had his car parked in there. He had a 1939 Studebaker. Do you remember there was another shed behind there and it was all smoke in there.

MP: I think he had rabbits in there.

WD: No, not in that shed. We shoved his car out of the shed. I don’t remember who helped. Anyway when we got the car out we saw it was still in gear. No wonder it was so hard to push. I knew he had a 50 gallon barrel that he kept gas in. He couldn’t have had much gas in it because I carried it out of the shed by myself. They had to haul water. There was a pump in behind the blacksmith shop that belonged to the elevator. That fire burned off the wires to the pump and we had no electricity. So they had to pump water from that well by hand. See at that time Gerald was part of the Wauseon Fire territory. Wauseon ran out of water from that well.

Vic Nagel at that time was living on the farm. He had a Plymouth and he went and got milk cans on a trailer and went out to the farm and filled them up with water from the water tank. We were pumping water from cisterns. I know they saved Bindemans. They finally got the fire out. That old building had tin siding on it. They couldn’t get to it to get it out.

WD: It’s a wonder more things didn’t burn years ago. You stop and think about it where would you get water years ago to put out a fire. You were lucky to have good drinking water.

MP: Did you tell me what year your father Herman Delventhal came to America?

WD: 1909.

MP: And you told me where he was born. How did he come here to America?

WD: By ship.

MP: Do you remember where he landed?

WD: He went through Ellis Island.

MP: Have you ever checked to see if he is on the list of any passenger ships?

WD: Somebody else has.

MP: You could check with Lucille Sunderman. She would know. Now let’s start with your mother Emma. She was the sweetest little soul. Do you remember what year your mother Emma was born?

WD: She was born in 1893. Her maiden name was Ranzau.

MP: From the bunch at Ridgeville Corners?

WD: Yes. She came over here in 1923. Dick Ranzau was her nephew. Mother was in Germany during World War One. She was engaged to be married to a fellow and he got killed in the war. She then decided to come to America. She had an aunt and uncle that sponsored her.

MP: What was their name?

WD: Aschemeier, Henry Aschemeir and Mrs. Henry  Aschemeier. She came over here in 1923 and they came by ship and somehow they landed in Montreal, Canada. They took a Canadian ship. They came in the ship in May, and the ship got caught between two icebergs. They were stuck two days and three nights in the ship. She said on the third morning the sun came out real nice, and the iceberg moved enough so they could get out.

MP: That would give you goose bumps.

WD: Well they all had their life jackets on and when they landed in Montreal they got on a train and they had never had bananas. They ate too many and they both got sicker than a dog. They liked them and they ate too many.

MP: They are very good. What year was Mary Ann born?

WD: She was born in 1928.

MP: And you were born in 1925. What year was Mary Ann killed in that automobile accident?

WD: 1978. She died in July.

MP: You never ever forget those kinds of tragedies. What year did she and Dick Gerken get married?

WD: 1952.

MP: Now he – what Gerken was he? Was he some of Don Gerken’s relation? The Don that worked for Harry Von Deylen?

WD: No, his dad’s name was Henry.

MP: There are quite a few Henry Gerkens around here.

RP: You should have brought the Gerken reunion picture along.

WD: Lucia is a Gerken. She is a daughter of Albert and Lydia Gerken.

MP: The picture is an 8 by 16 inch print and it is dated 1922. It reads in script “First Annual Gerken Reunion.” The print has a barn in the background and there is probably about six or seven rows of people. The funniest thing is here are all these people. They are all dressed up in their suits in the middle of summer. The photographer has all these people lined up and here in the front are two chickens scratching away in the dirt probably for something to eat. Wouldn’t they have been scared away by all this commotion.

RP: They were definitely range fed chickens.

MP: My dad is sitting right in the front row. He would have been twelve years old and he is sitting on a long rug with other young boys. He has his legs crossed.

LD: We have a picture of the Meyer family like that. We just ran across a picture of my dad in school.

MP: If you know people you can easily pick them out. You see my grandfather is on the top row, and my dad is sitting down below with the little boys. My grandmother has to be there somewhere on this picture. I have taken a magnifying glass and have her spotted. I have a picture of my grandmother with her hair up in a bun. I can’t get my sisters to agree with me that that woman is our grandmother.

WD: When I started first grade at St. John’s Clarence was going to high school and I think Walter was in the eighth grade at St. Johns. Clarence had a Chevy coupe and I would ride with them. Clarence would take both Walters, that is myself and your uncle to St. John’s school and then he would go on to high school. Then after school he would take us back home again. I would walk over to his house before he left for school. At your grandmas house would be Edna. She had her oldest child Weldon there and she would be giving him a bath. Edna was living with your grandma at that time. I would be watching her and then I would head off to school. That was a long time ago. How old was your dad?

MP:  We celebrated his 90th birthday in the fellowship hall at St. John’s. I think it was a surprise party. No the surprise birthday party was earlier. We just had an open house for him when he turned 90.

WD: I remember I was at the party and I got to see Weldon. I hadn’t seen him since he was a little baby. Weldon used to come to your Grampa and Grandma’s house.

MP: He passed away several years ago.

WD: Oh, yes, he did. I remember.

MP: I know I walked into the funeral home and Weldon’s sister Carolyn said I look just like my grandma. I never thought I looked like her. I think it was my dad’s 70th birthday when she had the surprise party. I know we weren’t supposed to tell. My mother was always lining up things to do and places to go and people to see. We had a big meal at my Dad’s party and we weren’t supposed to tell or let on that we knew. She wanted everyone to be there on time so we could surprise him. I think it took Daddy totally by surprise and he loved it. My sister Karen is the spitting image of Ada. She is the one in our family that can organize families and get things going. She tells everybody do this and do that and everybody just gets going and does it. She is great. There has to be one person in everyone’s family that has to be the organizer and she is it.

WD: She and your brother Howard never hitched.

MP: You know I don’t think I ever did either. Not until later in life anyway. When my father married my step mother Ada we were all introduced to her by us sitting on a davenport and my Dad said, “This is your new Mother. You are to call her Mom.” Right then and there the rebellion stirred up in me and I suppose it did with Howard too. Nowadays you would see a counselor and everything would turn out all right. Now would you marry a man with five little kids and one of your own? I don’t think I would ever be able to keep a family like that together like she did. Ada was very young when she married my Dad. She did a real good job. They always got along and so did we.

LD: Little by little you accept it and realize what she did for you.

MP: Howard turned out okay.

WD: Gosh yes. Howard and Harlan Miller made a good pair.

MP: Ornery I bet.

WD: They made history every day I think. They roamed all over Gerald and didn’t miss a thing.

RP: When we were first married I didn’t like to go out to Gerald to visit because Ada would always put us to work picking strawberries or vegetables.

MP: Russell grew up without a garden. We always had vegetable gardens and all kinds of fruits. We always helped with the planting, hoeing, and picking of the crops. My mother always gave us some of the vegetables and strawberries to eat. It was really too much for her to do it alone. We had our potato patch in the area where my dad tore down that old long building. We had to take our little buckets out and pick up stones so the potatoes could grow. In later years my dad gave me the newel post out of that old building and he put a base on it and I use it for a plant stand.

WD: What ever happened to your Grandfather’s cuckoo clock?

MP: Jeannette has it. She got it at my Grandfather’s auction.

WD: I would be walking home for lunch and I could hear the cuckoo clock. My mother went back to Germany in 1953 and she brought back a cuckoo clock. One for Mary Ann and one for me.  I still have mine. It has the long chains on it where you pull down on them to wind the clock.

MP:  Germany is still making cuckoo clocks.

WD: I am wondering your Uncle Gustav Doepke, he came from Germany. I was just wondering if he more or less brought that clock along with him when he left Germany to come to America.

MP: He might very well have. I have never heard where it came from. My sister Jeannette has since told me that in fact my Uncle Gus did bring it along from Germany when he came to America. Do you know Ernie Delventhal from Waterville, Ohio. He would have been your father’s brother. When we bought our house on Washington St. it had these big old overgrown bushes out in front. Your Uncle Ernie came knocking on our door and he wanted to see what kind of bushes they were. The lady we bought our house from, she went to Waterville to see Ernie to have him come to Napoleon and checked out our bushes. Ernie had planted them for her years ago and she wanted the same kind planted at her new home. Ernie had a landscaping business in Waterville. In the course of the conversation he told us his name was Ernest Delventhal. I asked him if he was any relation to the Herman Delventhal that had lived in Gerald. He said, oh, yes, he was a brother. He told me he had dated my Aunt Luella years ago, and said he almost married her. He knew our whole family and we had a lengthy conversation just from this man knocking on our door. Anyway he was quite a talker and so is Russell.

WD: My dad went back to Germany in 1922 and that is when he brought Ernest with him here.

MP: Did you tell me what year you took over your Dad’s blacksmith shop?

WD: Well see I got out of the Navy in 1946, and then I was discharged in May. I got home on a Sunday and I went to work Monday morning.

MP: Nobody gave you any vacation time did they?

WD: Then in July my Dad had a stroke. He lived three years after that. That is when I took over the work. I was just 21 years old. I grew up pretty fast.

MP: Of course you grew up fast in the Navy.

WD: One good thing, you see, I went to service school at Navy Pier, Chicago for aviation metalsmith and I learned welding.  When I got out of school I got put in the welding shop. I was stationed in Norfolk and that is where I stayed. I was really fortunate. That is what I wanted to do. I got my education out of the service.

RP: I was in the Marine Corp. and was based at Cherry Point, North Carolina. I was in aviation and we had those Curtiss Comando transport planes. I worked around them. I was in two years and then I was discharged.

WD: It was interesting working around that welding shop. We had to fabricate parts from blueprints. It was a challenge.

MP: Not everybody can do that. You probably knew how to weld before you got into the service didn’t you?

WD: No, I didn’t know the welding part. I was only 18 years old when I went into service.

MP: When did you retire from the blacksmith business?

LD: Retire!

MP: Well it’s no longer in existence. Was it a process over several years? Oops there goes the cuckoo clock chiming away!

WD: Well, see in 1953 I got married to Lucia. You know Lucia had lost her husband and she had two children. They had just bought this farm here.

MP: You mean Lucia and her husband Bob Cordes.

WD: Yes, We went to school together for twelve years. The blacksmith shop needed a new building and Lucia’s dad influenced me to start farming. Then I farmed right here on this land.

MP: Actually with the horses on the farm dwindling it was probably the best thing you could have done.

WD: There aren’t that many blacksmith shops around anymore. Look how many blacksmith shops Napoleon used to have. I helped Dad shoe horses too.

MP: Bill told about the time the two of you had to deliver a horse to Henry Langenhop’s farm after it had been shoed.

WD: No it was Adolph Langenhop’s horse. He always had a buggy and a buggy horse. He came to Gerald and he wanted Dad to shoe that horse. Dad was so busy you know, and his next door neighbor was at the elevator getting some feed ground. So he told Dad that he would go home with Herman Fitzenreiter and Dad could send Walter home to his house with the horse and buggy. That was in the afternoon and Dad couldn’t get it done right away. In the meantime I had asked Bill if he wanted to ride along to deliver the horse. So Bill said, yes, I would like to go along. So it was suppertime and Dad said we’ll eat supper first and then I will help you two get going. So we did, and the horse was hungry you know so he took off. Let’s see that would have been two and a half miles east we traveled from Gerald. So we took off and there was no stopping. You know where 108 is, well Bill and I kept hollering whoa whoa. We had went about a mile and that is where my Uncle lived and he heard that commotion on the road, my Uncle Bill Delventhal. He happened to be outside, he walked up to the road and the horse stopped, he was winded and the horse took off again and just kept running. We got up to Langenhops’ and the horse turned right into the lane right up to the barn and right to his stall and that is where he stopped.

MP: Do you suppose it was just because he was hungry?

WD: I suppose. Adolph took the two of us home and he said I thought about it afterwards, but I had a smooth bit in his mouth which is why you guys couldn’t rein him in.

MP: It’s a wonder you two guys didn’t get killed.

WD: You know where that jog is in that road, well we straightened that out.

MP: Bill was just laughing about it. What all did you do in the blacksmith shop?

WD: We did about everything. We shoed horses, fixed wagons, made wagon wheels, sharpened plow points, and afterwards we started welding.

MP: Do you know that at the elevator years ago they used to get their coal in railroad cars. I still have this but I can’t put my finger on it. I have a mule horseshoe. It is a little tiny shoe for a mule that would have went in the coal mines and probably lost his shoe and it ended up in the railroad car.

WD: My dad had a horse that had died and he sawed that foot off. I still have that with the shoe on.

MP: You are still farming here right. I think that is what you said. It probably keeps you real busy these days.

WD: I am supposed to be retired.

MP: I bet you help with the farming. You can’t just sit still.

WD: I try to do very little.

MP: You went to St. John’s school all eight years right.

WD: Right.

MP: Then did you go to Ridgeville?

WD: Right.

MP: Who was your teacher at St. John’s?

WD: I had Miss Schick, Mr. Bunsold, and Mr. Gefeke.

MP: You had the same teachers I had. You know at home I had two catechisms.

WD: Did you know how to talk German?

MP: No, mine were in English. When I went to school you had a choice whether you wanted to learn German or not. For some reason my father didn’t want me to learn German. His philosophy was you are in America and you learn English. We are Americans and not Germans. So I was never taught German. It may have had something to do with Germany fighting in the Wars. Now I wish I could speak German, just to study my roots. I had two catechisms. You know how your family would buy school books and you would pass them on down to your brothers and sisters. I ended up with two catechisms as I was the last one of the family. Both of these were in English and both of them were copyrighted in 1912. I started school in 1942. I guess catechisms never become obsolete. They are just dog-eared. Do you know what I heard the other day? I have my class ring. It is 14K gold and I paid sixteen dollars for it. School kids now are paying $900.00 for a class ring. The kids are buying them. How can parents afford to pay for a class ring I will never know.

WD: My ring cost me about $10.00.

MP: Mine was $16.00 I know because I had to pick tomatoes out in the field to earn money to pay for the ring. Now I never wear it. I didn’t mind picking tomatoes but I hated those big black and yellow spiders that hung around the tomato plants. We had those big round hampers and we had to carry them full to the end of the rows. The farmer would come along with his tractor and wagon and pick them up. I got sixteen cents per hamper. So I picked lots of tomatoes that year.

WD: Your Uncle Walter and I used to hoe weeds in corn on your grampa’s farm. We used to get 50 cents a day for farm work.

MP: And you thought you were getting rich. Do you have anything else you want to share. Any wild stories? Did you go to any of the big weddings that they used to have around here? Do you remember years ago people got married and everybody for miles around came and celebrated.

WD: Everybody brought along a lot of food too.

MP:  You would eat twice too during the evening, and you always had coffeecake.

RP: I crashed some of those weddings too, even though I wasn’t invited. The bride thought I was with the groom’s side and the groom thought I was with the bride’s side. They always had kegs and kegs of free beer. I only did that when I was in high school. Us guys would all go together.

WD: Remember when we used to go belling. We as a group would go to where the wedding reception was being held and make a lot of noise. We used shot guns, big bells, etc. The bridegroom would give us a fairly good sum of money. After wishing them well we as a group would go to some tavern to enjoy ourselves.

LD: When you didn’t get invited to the wedding is when you went belling. You would haul the bride and groom around in a calf rack and drive them all around.

WD: How is your brother Kenny doing? We used to have a lot of fun growing up. We would play together. We would go sledding. Your brother Kenny couldn’t talk German, and of course I couldn’t talk English, but we got along just fine. We would go to your house and your mother would make us a sandwich. She would put margarine or butter on it and then she would put sugar on it. I liked that. We would call it sugar butha. You know when they lived next to us while you were building the new house your mom and my mom got to be good friends.

MP:  I suppose. I know very little about her. The only recollection I have of my real mother Ruth is when I went in the back door and Howard pinched my finger in the screen door. I have a new nail on my finger so I know it happened. I know Howard had to stand in the corner for punishment. I know we had a little water pump by the sink

WD: I know you didn’t have a well. When Mohrings bought that house. They lived there after you moved in to your new house. They used our well for drinking water and for washing clothes. They had a cistern with a pump. And then Ed Bindeman built that house next to your new house.

MP: I remember Ed and Lorna Bindeman. They never had any children. I remember she used to tell my mother that she was lucky to have all these girls to help her with the work. Little did she know that children were work.

LD: We all have lots of memories.

RP: Do you remember the Field Days we used to have at St. John’s. I went to St. Paul’s and we always got beat by you guys from St. John’s.

WD: I remember when we started those in 1938. At that time we had the biggest enrollment in the schools. At St. Paul’s, when did that school start?

RP: It would have been around 1933. The class before me was the first to go all eight years. Then of course I went all eight years and then on to high school. I remember on the Field Days Wesche’s Furniture Store would bring the truck to school. It was the same truck they used to deliver furniture to homes. Wesche’s would bring the truck to school and all the St. Paul kids would climb on the back of the truck and we would hang on and go out to St. John’s for field day. My friend at St. John’s was always Willie Delventhal. We just seemed to get along. At St. Paul’s we didn’t have a play ground or ball field so we could never practice. St. John’s always beat us in everything.

MP: You got along all right.

WD: We had a lot more kids too going to school than you did.

RP: I was telling Alma Dachenhaus about the film from St. Johns, she was a Von Seggern. I told her there were girls in dresses playing softball. She went to St. Luke’s school in Clinton Twp. and she said that was probably her playing softball. The girls there had to fill in for the boys because they didn’t have enough boys for a team. Of course their school has been discontinued.

MP: We will have to bring along when we come the film from St. John’s field day. It shows Miss Schick, Mr. Bunsold, Mr. Gefeke, Pastor Zschoche. I always liked Mr. Gefeke. He was strict.

WD: I always got along with Mr. Gefeke. I never had any problems with him.

LD: He seemed to kind of pick on children that had a hard time grasping their lessons.

WD: It might have been frustration on his part. He couldn’t get focused on teaching them what they were supposed to learn or rather didn’t want to learn. The two ideas didn’t mesh.

MP: I know I had a classmate that actually ran away from school. Mr. Gefeke went after him and found him hiding underneath a bridge near where Ellings lived on that half mile road near school. He brought him back to school and I am certain he got a beating.  Nowadays when you have children that have a hard time grasping subjects they are put in a separate class and given special attention to help them. I think some of them still could use a beating now and then.

WD:   Years ago we had a confirmation reunion and you know how they always ask each individual what they were doing and Ed Bahler had said I know when I had Mr. Gefeke I was so excited and I was constipated for days. I will never forget that. But he said now Miss Schick I really liked her. I almost liked her better than my mother.

MP: She was such a kindly person, so sweet. We are looking at pictures and I see the hydrangea bush with the big flowers. This is at my grandma’s house. I think that is why I like hydrangeas.

WD: The shrubs they had along the house at your grampa’s, they trimmed those all down. The spirareas they trimmed them too. They are all gone now.

MP: Do you remember that big tree in the front yard with the big long cigars hanging down? They had it trimmed.

WD: Kind of like it drooped. I think Walter and Clarence did that. They used a string so they would have it straight.

MP: Do you want to add anything.

WD: I gave you a lot of hot air.

LD: Tell about the time you were going to run away and go to Germany.

WD: Oh no, I can’t tell that.

MP: Why did you want to go to Germany?

WD: I got into trouble with my dad. We got into an argument or something and it was right after dinner. Whenever I left or anything I would always tell them where I was going. I made up my mind I was going to run away. I remember I went in back of everything and behind the elevator and Alvin Miller was there at the elevator getting a train car ready to haul grain. You know Alvin he was everybody’s friend. I told him that I was going to Germany. He said well you should go because you have relatives there. I started walking. I was going to Uncle Bill’s who lived a mile from Gerald.

MP: Were you walking?

WD: Yes, I was only about five years old. Here Frank Zimmer came to Gerald to go to the blacksmith shop to get something fixed. Frank said to my dad I saw your boy walking on the road. I remember he had an old Model T Ford. Dad said to Herman Vajen, he was from Germany and he worked for Dad, so those two came back and picked me up. So Dad, he had a big old planer where he planed wood. He laid my butt across that and I got a spanking. That was my last trip.

MP: I think everybody wants to run away at some time in their life.

LD: These are all memories.

MP: Do you remember when the St. John’s Church burned?

WD: Oh, yes, that was in 1961.

MP: You’re very good with dates.

WD: I was just getting ready to go to Gerald to get some feed ground. It was kind of foggy. When I got in line to get my feed ground Lucia Rosebrock worked there in the office. She come out of the office and said “Our church is on fire.” Norman  Ruetz said, “Come on, boys, lets go.” We were some of the first ones there. When we got there we could still see the altar. It was all smoke and we closed the doors and there was nothing we could do. Finally one truck came from Napoleon with some water. It was burning in the back of the church. On top our organ chamber, that was in there. The ladies had a gas stove down below. We put water down below and then up on top and all of a sudden we ran out of water. That’s when the fire took off and got a hold of that asphalt roof and that was it. I’d say within forty-five minutes the church was gone. The bell tower fell down. By noon it was all burned.

MP: Lightning hit the church am I right?

WD: That’s what they claim. Pastor Maassel had just been there and he is the one that called the fire department.

MP:  I remember that John Badenhop lived next door, and didn’t he see it too?

WD: That I don’t know.

MP: I think he did. We were married in that church in 1954. Fifty-three years ago.

LD: That white altar is what I miss.

RP: Arnold Miller has two pictures of the interior of that old church.

MP: One of the pictures is even before they remodeled years ago. He found these in his mother’s things after St. John’s published their book.

WD: Do you have that book?

MP: Yes I do. Norma Damman made sure I got a copy. She bought it for me and then I got it from her. We have a copy of the inside of the old church and I put it inside the book.

WD: We had two aisles in that old church.

MP: What do you mean two aisles?

WD: There were two aisles running from the narthex to the altar up front.

MP: Wasn’t there a center aisle?

WD: Not in the first church. There were pews up to the wall. The choir was up to the front on the right.

WD: I have been to Germany three times. My mother had three sisters and three brothers there. I have a lot of relatives in Germany. The first time we went I wanted to stay in my mother’s home. Mom’s niece Ella, a widow lived there. She treated us like a royal couple. My cousin lives there now. We have been back to Germany twice.

MP: Rather than tear something down and build new they remodel. They don’t tear things down in Germany like we do here in America. There is nothing wrong with those old places.

LD: She had chickens and pigs right there in the barn with them.

MP: Isn’t it in Indonesia where they have the chickens living right in the house with the people. That is one way they get these diseases like the bird flu.

LD: Early in the morning you could see Ella out there with her sythe cutting the grass getting ready to feed the animals.

MP: I used to help feed the pigs. We had pigs in the barn in back of our house. I’d climb up on the fence, lean over and throw them the slop. It was usually potato peelings and leftover food. They loved it. They’d usually try to nibble at your feet.

WD: My Dad’s brother he had a lot of hogs. I helped him feed the hogs. They gave the pigs cooked potatoes. They had a regular cooker and they would cook the potatoes right in the hog pen. He had a big long trough and he would put the potatoes in that trough and he would put mash on top of that. Then he had a water faucet there and he would put water on top of that. The hogs made a lot of noise when they ate.

MP: It was probably cheap feed using the potatoes and fattened the pigs up too.

end of tape

The following information has been provided by Walter Delventhal

My recollection of the old saloon in Gerald.

The first floor was a large room that was used for the tavern. The second floor had about four rooms. This furnished the living quarters for the owners. When the Prohibition started in 1920 the saloon went out of business. Henry Witte, a widower was the lineman or repairman for the Gerald Telephone Co. The switchboard was located in Gerald. All the calls had to go through the switchboard. It served all of Freedom Township plus the adjoining area of the neighboring township. Henry lived in the saloon by himself. He also did odd jobs for people. When your Grandpa Gerken bought the Homan farm next to Gerald he hired Albert Meyer, a bachelor to do the farming. He moved in with Henry. When the house on the farm was available those two lived in that house. After this, John Norden used the first floor to repair automobiles. After John quit for a while it was empty. Then some people of the name of Welstedt, a couple with two small girls lived upstairs. Mr. Welstedt did auto repair work. Then your Dad bought the building. He took the building down and used some of the lumber for your new house. I remember your mother pulling nails so the lumber could be used. She was looking forward to her new house. It was a very sad day in Gerald when she passed away. She only had a short time to enjoy her new house.
When the Prohibition started in 1920 that was the end of the saloon business. My dad told about the celebrating that went on Saturday nights. Wauseon was dry, no alcohol allowed. There were quite a few German Russians, my dad called them, that had settled there. The railroad had passenger service. Naomi also had a saloon. My dad said since you could get off in Naomi. Gerald, having two saloons could take care of quite a few. The balance went to Napoleon. I don’t know when the train took them back to Wauseon. No DUI’s. I remember in 1933 when Ferd Bindeman was allowed to sell beer again it was a happy day in Gerald.

The elevator was still using a steam engine to power the machinery. Electricity was mostly used for lights. More appliances, refrigerators, toasters, flat irons and TV was just beginning. Our electrical capacity was overloaded. When I got back from the Navy in 1946 I purchased an electric welder. I got along O.K. till Ferd Bindeman got a TV. He mounted it on a shelf in his tavern. Very few people had TV. Quite a few would come to watch boxing matches on Fridays at 9:00 p.m. The only problem every time I welded the picture flipped. I worked a lot after supper. I would join the crowd at Bindemans’. The World Series would be on TV. They were all day games. Ferd being a big baseball fan having sponsered a ball field and Gerald baseball beam. Welding was not permitted during the ballgame. I usually enjoyed the games also. In 1948 Napoleon Light Co. ran a complete new electric line along Road 15 to Gerald. That is when the elevator used electric motors to power the machinery. We were all happy Ferd could watch TV while I was welding.

Dachenhaus, Leonard "Lum"

Interviewed By Russ and Marlene Patterson, March 4, 2009
Bavarian Village, Napolen, Ohio 43545

LD: I am just finishing my lunch here.

MP: What did you eat?

LD: It is chicken over rice. The rice is really nice and done. I got it over here to the new Mexican restaurant. They put a white cheese on it. They melted a white cheese over it and it’s really good. I like it.

RP: We used to have a Spanish lady that helped us when we lived on Washington St. She prepared tacos for us.

MP: It had a real hard corn shell crust.

LD: She should have used the soft shells.

MP: It was hard to get down your throat. She said we might like the soft crust better. I thought they were a little gooshy.

LD: I ate at the Mexican restaurant several times and I like it. My goodness they have a lot of meat in it.

MP: Did they put hamburger in it too?

LD: Yes. The other night I was talking to my son Terry and I said I would like to go over there to the Mexican restaurant. I usually order a taco, either a chicken or a hamburg. They have tacos and enchilados. I know you would like their tacos.

MP: Maybe we should have went there.

LD: Be sure you order the soft shell.

RP: Actually we went to Mr. G’s and I had chicken and dressing.

MP: They had the chicken and dressing on special for $5.25. I tasted Russell’s dressing. I just had a hamburger. It was very good, wasn’t it.

RP: Yes

LD: Their meals are big too. I go up and have breakfast and I am not hungry. Now I will eat this noon but I am not real hungry.

RP: When we go to Mr. G’s on Saturday for breakfast, by the time we get home at noon I am never hungry either.

MP: You know Lum, all of the condos back here in Bavarian Village are the same size, but yours looks bigger than ours.

LD: Same size. My garage is bigger. You have too much junk in yours.

RP: If we didn’t have so much stuff cluttered all over.

MP: You can get rid of it because it is mostly yours.

LD: Mine is getting pretty empty. I told my kids to take what they need.

MP: I am trying to empty it out.

LD: I don’t need all that’s in there. Terry said we’ll get you a house cleaner and I told him I don’t need a house cleaner.

MP: I had one when my kids were little and now it is a different story. The housecleaner would put things away and clean in the basement. I don’t need one now.

LD: I clean and I get tired.

MP: You know I think running a sweeper is hard work. Russell does most of the sweeping for me. Mine is self propelled.

LD: Mine is too and I still can’t do that.

MP: I can’t either. We have another light weight one but I am afraid I will stumble over the cord.

LD: I don’t sweep mine every week. I don’t think it needs it.

MP: Our carpet is the same as yours.

LD: They asked me if I wanted to change mine and I said no. I didn’t want to be tore up.

MP: I don’t want to be tore up either.

LD: I sweep now every other week. Next week I mop the floor.

MP: You see we have carpet in our kitchen. I would rather have linoleum in the kitchen. Is your kitchen carpeted?

LD: Just where we eat at. The linoleum part I can mop real easy. The bathroom is just a small area. I mop that too.

MP: Our bathroom is all carpeted.

LD: Your bathroom is carpeted. Neila had that out on the farm. She always liked that. I never did like it. You’d get water over it. Neila liked it though. We had this inside-outside carpet. The water never hurt it.

MP: Well Lum let’s get started.

LD: Let’s see what you got here.

MP: You tell me first of all tell me your name.

LD: My name is Leonard Dachenhaus. I didn’t have any middle name.

MP: You had no middle name whatsoever. And you go by the name Lum.

LD: Yes.

MP: Why do they call you Lum?

LD: Did you know that guy that lived here?

MP: You mean the Reimund boys?

LD: No. He lived right where Florence Conners lives. I mean Florence Conners Claussen. She was married to Aaron Conners. He had a gas station in Hamler years ago and we were kids in town. Florence is just enough older than me. Dad had a restaurant just across the street

MP: You mean your dad?

LD: Yes and it was just across the street from his gas station. I had a brother two years younger than me. Lum and Abner at that time was on the radio. Aaron would holler across the street well it’s time for Lum and Abner, let’s get with it. We’d all be sitting on a bench in front of that radio and my brother would start imitating him. Then they’d start calling us Lum and Abner. Before long it got to be Big Lum and Little Lum.

MP: And you were Little Lum.

LD: No I was Big Lum. My brother was two years younger.

MP: Okay.

LD: I was 16 and he was 14 and that has stuck ever since. That is where that came from. When Aaron started calling us that he told everybody. First thing I knew everybody in town was calling us Lum and Abner.

MP: It was years before I ever knew what your real name was. I always thought that you were just Lum.

LD: You know when Nela’s dad died. I farmed her farm too. My checks were made out to Lum. Them banks all knew who I was and it didn’t really bother me. So I have been Lum for a very very long time.

MP: What did your dad run?

LD: He ran the Hamler Restaurant.

MP: About what year would that have been.

LD: Let’s see I was 14 when he started out and that was 76 some years ago. What year would that have been. It must have been in the early ‘30’s. I was still in school. It must have been my first year of high school. I only got two years of high school in. I didn’t graduate.

MP: A lot of people didn’t years ago.

LD: My dad couldn’t make enough farming. I had two sisters and a brother at home. After two years and I was 16 I didn’t go anymore. I didn’t think that was so important. I was working half of the time.

MP: What did you do, go help out in the restaurant?

LD: That is the time they built the Hamler School. I made good money.

MP: Do you mean building.

LD: I made fifty cents an hour. That was big money then.

MP: It was years ago. I worked at Murphy’s 5 and 10 and I made fifty cents an hour. I thought that was great. Your money went farther years ago.

LD: I bought a new car.

MP: What kind of car did you buy?

LD: I bought a four door Chevrolet. I bought it from Hamler’s Bichan’s Chevrolet. I bought it for $734.00. Now you can’t buy a piece of junk for that price.

MP: You can’t.

LD: It was brand new. Then when I got married.

MP: What year did you get married?

LD: It was 1941. It was in December so it was almost 1942. Oh yes, I wasn’t going to let that gal get away. It lasted 65 years.

MP: How did you meet Neila?

LD: In Elery at a dance. You guys don’t remember the dance hall there do you?

MP: No

RP: I do half ways.

MP: I can tell you that I was pretty well kept at home.

LD: See Judy and I we talked about that at one time and she asked if I remembered what year that dance hall was tore down. We had the grocery store when they tore it out. She said it was in the late ‘40’s or ‘50’s.

RP: I went with my Grandfather and Grandmother. His mother had been a Germann. They had a Germann reunion there in Elery in that dance hall. They took me along and I was probably about seven or eight years old.

MP: Where was this dance hall located?

LD: Right behind where the bar is. They tore that all out back in there.

MP: Right behind the bar.

LD: That little building out in back now they use that for storage. Do you ever go out the back door? If you open that other door it goes into a garage. That was open and it went into a dance hall. It was all hooked together.

MP: It must have been a pretty popular place.

LD: It was. Daman’s band used to play there.

MP: Do you mean Orville?

LD: No no, his folks. Orville got his start there.

RP: They had a Schutzenfest there.

LD: Orville started there. He was just a young kid when his dad and Schultz.

MP: Who was his dad?

LD: I am trying to think. There were two Schultz boys.

RP: I remember that older Damman.

LD: There were 4 or 5 guys and two of them were Schultz boys. Those boys I knew. They were older than I was. Orville was just a young boy at that time.

MP: Did you go to a one room school with an old pot bellied stove?

LD: Yes and we walked. Dad was bullheaded. All those schools were only two miles apart. The other one was only a mile down the road from me but Dad didn’t like that school. There were no German people that went there and none were any of our relation.

MP: Why did you go to that one?

LD: He wanted me to go to the other one where my relation went. So we walked two miles. My cousin lived right next to us. Do you remember George Badenhop?

RP: Oh yes.

LD: George Badenhop and my mother were brother and sister.

MP: Do you mean the George Badenhop that lived in Freedom Township

LD:No no, the George Badenhop that lived up in town here. Everybody knew him

MP: Did you know him Russell?

RP: Oh yes.

LD: They lived next to our place out in the country. We were not very far apart. His daughter Lorna she started school the year after I did. We would have to go through the field. Then we would start picking up the kids. We had half of the school.

MP: About how many kids were in your class?

LD: I don’t remember exactly.

MP: Maybe ten.

LD: I would say there were about eight. We had eight grades.

MP: And this was in a one room school.

LD: Yes.

RP: Do you remember your teachers name?

LD: I know a couple of them. One was Edna Panning. I didn’t like her. She was strict. She lived in Hamler. Her dad ran the lumber yard. After the schoolhouse was built I went to work for him. Her brother was a banker. His name was Julius Panning. You have probably heard the name. I went to work for his dad at the lumber yard. Her brother and I we unloaded coal and lumber every day. I got $25.00 that first week. I took my check to the bank and in the morning I heard growling through the walls and I thought what is going on. I listened a little while and it was him telling his dad why are you paying that kid so much, that is all the money I have got to put in the bank.

MP: I don’t doubt you.

LD: That was in 1939.

MP: You did physical labor. That would have been right during the Depression.

LD: I worked there then until I went into the service. I was still working there when we got married.

MP: Did you ever get into farming?

LD: When I got home from the service her dad was getting up in years and he wanted me to help him. He said I am going to have to quit farming before long and you might as well help me farm. That was Neila’s dad. We were married by then. That’s when I started farming. I’m doing pretty good right now. I’m living pretty well.

MP: Yes you are living pretty well.

LD: I am getting along up in years. You and Russell have a long ways to go to catch up with me.

MP: That is true.

LD: When you get as old as me then you can say you are getting old.

MP: I am getting old the way it is. You are really lucky because you are mentally real good.

LD: I forget things.

MP: We all forget things.

LD: I have good neighbors. I really appreciate my neighbors.

MP: We have really nice neighbors around here. Now Lum, getting back to this old stuff you one time told me about muskrats. You sold muskrats to Tietke’s up in Toledo. Where did you get these muskrats?

LD: August Yackee, he bought poultry and eggs and skinned furs in the fall.

MP: In town here?

LD: No, in Hamler. People would bring these muskrats in and we’d skin them. About 4 o’clock in the morning he’d tell me to take them up to Tietke’s. I’d get in the truck and drive them up to Tietke’s. They opened their store up at 6 in the morning. People would be standing, this is no joke, in line.

MP: Were they mostly black people?

LD: No, maybe about half were blacks. They were really good looking muskrats. Did you ever see muskrat skins?

MP: No, and I don’t want to.

LD: They have a nice red meat. Everybody would say taste it because it was good. Muskrats clean every bite of food they eat. Did you know that?

MP: I have heard that.

LD: I didn’t know that.

MP: Don’t raccoons wash their food too?

LD: Yes they wash their food too. Coon meat is greasy. I don’t care for coon meat. I have tried muskrat meat but I don’t like it. I have had a pickup load of muskrats. I would get there at 6 o’clock and by 8 o’clock they would be all gone, they were out of them. That is just how fast they sold. See it was only a few weeks in the fall during trapping season was the only time you were allowed to get them.

MP: Do you suppose any restaurants bought them?

LD: That I don’t know. I just knew the people were lined up and and waiting to buy them. We had coon on there too.

MP: Did people buy the coon too?

LD: They didn’t sell like the muskrats did.

MP: Just the thought of it turns me off.

LD: I couldn’t eat them. Coon is not a real bad tasting meat. I just didn’t care for them.

MP: Do organizations still have Coon Suppers around here?

LD: I think they do.

MP: Didn’t the Sportsman’s Club in Wauseon have the Coon Suppers?

LD: Yes that is where they were at. See we had them in Elery years ago, those Coon Suppers.

MP: Russell what was Mildred Eberle telling us about? Was it coon meat? You knew Mildred Eberle didn’t you Lum. They called her Midge. She talked a mile a minute. I just loved to visit with her.

LD: Yes, yes I knew Midge. She is gone now.

MP: Yes she is gone now. I really miss her. I think she was telling me how to cook coon.

LD: She was a real nice lady.

MP: I loved to visit with her.

LD: Her boy Bob I liked real well too.

RP: She collected cookie cutters.

MP: She had a big collection of cookie cutters and her son Bob collected marbles. He at one time bought me a gooseberry marble. It looked just like a gooseberry.

LD: I have never seen any of those. I always hunted marbles to make my cats.

MP: What kind of cats did you make?

LD: I make cats like the one I have by the front door.

MP: Did you really make that cat?

LD: That was my pattern. I copied off of that one. I have made close to 500 of those things.

MP: That cat out there is cute.

LD: I got that out of a magazine when I retired from farming. I had a real nice garage out there. I had a band saw. I was piddling around.

MP: Do you still have the band saw.

LD: No, that is why I quit making them. When we had a sale and moved up to here I sold all that stuff. I wished I had it now.

MP: I think you would still be able to sell cats like that.

RP: I like the cat’s eyes.

MP: The eyes are marbles!

LD: It got so I couldn’t find marbles that looked like a cat eye. Some of those marbles I bought over in Hicksville. At that time they still had the cat eye marbles. That was over fifteen years ago.

MP: I have some cat eye marbles.

LD: I just couldn’t fine them anywhere. Those were the last ones that I bought came from Hicksville. I used to enjoy making them. This kind of weather it gave me something to do. I made those and I made spinners, the ones that you hang. I made those too.

RP: About how many years did you take muskrats up to Toledo to sell?

LD: It was at least a couple of years.

MP: Tietke’s isn’t in business anymore either.

LD: I would think of that every time I would drive to Toledo. I would point and say that’s where Tietke’s was.

MP: Especially the downtown area is bad.

RP: Down by the river is where my folks always parked. Down there by Tietke’s parking lot. We would all go shopping and then we would all meet inside Tietke’s.

LD: Before you got to Tietke’s going in was a big hardware

RP: That would have been Bostwick & Braun.

LD: That was next to Tietke’s. I used to turn in behind Tietke’s and unload my muskrats.

MP: That was quite a story.

LD: It was, I had quite the time.

MP: I used to take the kids shopping there

LD: Nowadays everybody runs to Walmart.

MP: Right. Tietke’s was much nicer.

LD: You’re right, It was a nice store.

RP: I remember in the back they had a meat department and they would have fish on display. They had big suckers that you could buy.

LD: My muskrats came in the back door and they would go right out the other end.

MP: I can’t imagine people buying muskrats.

LD: That is true.

MP: Oh I believe you, yes I do.

LD: I did that for two years for him, hauling those muskrats. We sold chickens to them too.

MP: Were they dead or alive?

LD: Oh they were live chickens. We took them to Detroit, Buffalo and to Cleveland.

RP: Tell about your turkeys.

LD: I raised turkeys.

RP: Tell about taking them to market.

MP: You raised turkeys from little pullets on?

LD: Yes I did. They start out as laying hens. Orville Wyse over in Archbold talked me into that. They’d lay eggs. That was good money.

MP: You mean turkey eggs?

LD: Yes, see he had the hatchery. It got kinda bad at last. He was having money problems and we all knew it and we couldn’t get our money out. There was another one back in the late ‘50’s. Money was money then. I had a cousin and we put our money together. Of course he had more turkeys than I did. We both tried to get our money out of Orville. He had 10,000 dollars yet of mine. I was lucky, I only had 5,000 dollars. But I got a new car out of him. He did go under so I got about half of my money out of it.

RP: Didn’t you take turkeys to market too?

LD: I took turkeys to Buffalo.

MP: Do you mean Buffalo, New York?

LD: Yes.

RP: Tell about that

LD: We took them up in train cars.

MP: How did you get them in the train cars?

LD: There were cages inside the train cars. You’ve seen chicken cages, well these were bigger so you could put turkeys in them. They would load a whole train car with these turkeys. In the middle of the train car there was a little room about the size of your bathroom. It had a little stove and a little bitty table and a place to lay down. I would live in that for three days with those turkeys until we got to Buffalo.

MP: So were most of the turkeys still alive when you got to Buffalo.

LD: That was another thing. I had to feed them every day and if you had dead ones you couldn’t throw them out. You would have to pile them up. We usually had maybe five six or seven by the time we got to Buffalo. When we hit the rail yards the colored people would be lined up and holler to us if you have any dead ones throw them out. I had hauled them there for three days. They would grab them and run. They didn’t get sick or die. Nowadays you couldn’t do that. When I came home from the service I don’t think I was home three days and he called and said I was pretty good taking them turkeys to Buffalo and he asked me if I would take a run to Buffalo with some turkeys. Now this was in the Fall. I had just got out of the service in September. He told me he could sell a carload of turkeys in Buffalo, but he needed somebody to take them. I told Neila about this and asked her if she wanted to take a ride to Buffalo. She asked me how we were going to get to Buffalo. I told her we would ride along with the turkeys. She told me I could take the turkeys but you won’t stay married to me.

MP: So she wouldn’t go with you.

LD: No, she wouldn’t go. Denny had said she could go along if she wanted to.

MP: I don’t think I would have enjoyed a train trip with a bunch of turkeys.

LD: Well it was pretty good money for that time.

MP: Where did you take the turkeys to in Buffalo?

LD: The guys that bought them would come to the rail yard with their trucks and they would have to unload them there. I don’t remember their names.

MP: Maybe it was like a grocery chain or something.

LD: Yes it was a big outfit. At that time you weren’t able to go into a grocery store and buy turkeys year round.

MP: That is so true.

LD: You would buy a turkey just for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The turkeys sold like crazy.

MP: You know Chief had turkeys on sale last week and I think the whole big turkey you could buy it like for six dollars. They were frozen.

LD: The turkey breast is the only part I like.

MP: Same here.

LD: I don’t like the legs at all. There is too many fine bones in there.

MP: I love turkey.

LD: I love the turkey breasts too. I like to buy it sliced too. Did you ever eat smoked turkey? I like that too.

MP: Yes.

LD: We would take our biggest tom turkeys when we were done breeding them and we’d smoke the breast. That was so good.

RP: We used to go to Wauseon and buy smoked turkey. Was that at Snyder’s?

MP: No that was Figy’s just north of Wauseon on Rt. 2.

LD: Yes they smoked our turkeys a few times.

MP: You would pull up in their lane and they had this big old German Shepherd dog. It scared our boys and us. I was afraid to get out of the car.

RP: Marlene and I got out of the car. They had a high counter in their office where you bought the turkey and there was another German Shepherd that jumped right up over this counter. He started barking at us.

MP: Did we get turkey that time or did we leave?

RP: Yes we got some smoked turkey.

LD: He did have real good smoked turkey.

MP: That makes for real good sandwiches.

RP: We got a catalog in the mail from some company, I forget who, and they advertised smoked turkey. I ordered one and when we got it , why it was a smoked duck and not a turkey.

LD: You mean you got a whole duck?

RP: We ate it anyway.

LD: I never had smoked duck.

MP: Yes you and Dan ate it. Marlene didn’t want any.

LD: I like duck, but I don’t like to clean it.

MP: Do they have a lot of pinfeathers?

LD: Oh yes, they are full of them. If you get them at the wrong time they are just loaded with pinfeathers. I like duck but I don’t care for goose.

RP: Goose is too greasy.

LD: Oh yes.

RP: We went up one time to a restaurant in Marshall, Michigan with some friends and they ordered the restaurant special which was goose. They said too that it was real greasy.

LD: Goose is really greasy. That place in Marshall that is close to that place called Turkeyville.

MP: You mean up in Michigan?

LD: Yes, up in Marshall there is a place called Turkeyville Restaurant. It was still there when I was there. They have plays there. They would put on plays and things like that there. All you could get there were turkey meals. They had all different kinds of turkey meals.

MP: That sounds good. Is it still in business?

LD: Oh yes, I think Sturdevants still go up there.

RP: I got a kick out it. They ordered the goose because it was so cheap. Then they hollered it wasn’t good because it was so greasy.

LD: Muskrat is not greasy. It tastes good but I just can’t bring myself to eat it.

MP: Is it more like beef?

LD: I don’t know. I did taste coon. I don’t know how I did it, but I guess I might have had one too many beers.

MP: That will do it. Did you run a grocery store in Elery?

LD: Yes, it was right next to the bar and the elevator.

MP: There was another building that was torn down.

LD: Yes we had the store in there.

MP: Elery must have been a booming town at one time.

LD: Yes it was. We had two gas stations, two bars, a grocery store, an elevator. The beet dump was back in there.

MP: Did you raise beets?

LD: Yes. Neila’s dad was raising beets when I came home from the service.

MP: Was that profitable?

LD: Oh, it was fair. We’d get a good year. It was just like tomatoes. Tomatoes are good in a growing season of good weather. Profit is good when the weather cooperates. We had some of our sugar beets get wet one year and that was enough.

MP: Did they rot in the ground for you?

LD: No, we couldn’t get them out of the field it was so muddy. We had to throw them on a wagon and then haul them to the road and then haul them on trucks.

MP: Did you use, what we used to call them, beet hunkies? Those people from Belgium?

LD: No, we hired Jamaicans. They were worse than the Belgiums. The Belgiums were good.

MP: That would have been very hard work.

LD: The Belgiums were good people. Those Jamaicans you just couldn’t teach them anything. Neila’s dad would get so disgusted with those Jamaicans. He would start them on a row of beets and they would wind up in another row. They just couldn’t understand how to do it. He got mad and run them out. He said he’d let the beets rot out in the field before he would hire another Jamaican. Then he hired the Jamaicans. So after that we went and raised tomatoes. That was a better deal. We had 40 acres of them at last.

MP: Were all 40 acres planted in tomatoes?

LD:Yes, in two different places. We upset a load once and that ended up a disaster.

MP: That would have been a big loss.

LD: Not such a big loss as it was such a big job. I called my sister and her husband and two other couples and we sat out there till midnight getting the tomatoes reloaded.

MP: Were you using the hampers at that time?

LD: Yes. We had to stack a layer and then stack another layer. We couldn’t get them all on. Do you remember Orville Rettig?

RP: Oh yes.

LD: He said I will put on another layer if you put on another layer. We did finally get them all on. I got mine out on the road and he didn’t. His front wheels come up and the front of his truck come up and his whole works got dumped. So that was the last picking of the tomatoes. I quit that deal.

RP: What year did you take over the grocery store?

LD: That was in 1957.

MP: That would have been rather late for a grocery store to be in a small town like Elery.

LD: Rosie Hoffman’s dad had it.

MP: You mean the grocery store in Elery.

LD: Yes he had the grocery store. It was a Hoffman. What was her name. She was a nice lady.

RP: I can still remember him coming in the drug store. He was always laughing.

MP: Was it Harvey?

RP: Yes it was Harvey.

LD: What was her name anymore? He always worked the dance floor when Neila’s folks were there. That’s how I got to know them. When they sold it they sold it to Larry Myles’s folks. They had it maybe three or four years. Then we bought it from them. That was in ‘57.

RP: I can remember Eldor’s mother. She used to come in and get prescriptions.

LD: Eldor’s mother.

RP: Yes.

LD: You know where the Henry County Bank is here on this south side.

RP: She lived right next door to it. Is she still alive?

LD: No she has been dead for quite some time now. Eldor isn’t real good either. I should go see them. I just can’t bring myself to go see these people. We ran around with them all the time.

MP: I know just how you feel.

LD: I see Betty every once in a while.

MP: We saw Betty at the Legion over in Ridgeville.

LD: You mean the fish fry?

MP: No it was the Legion’s Chicken Pot Pie dinner.

LD: Neila and I used to always go over there for their fish fry.

MP: St. Augustine’s Catholic Church has a good fish fry too.

LD: I go to Alpine on Tuesdays to eat and I go to Elery on Thursdays to eat, and when my renters call me I go out to eat with them. That is about all. Of course I go out to eat on Sundays.

MP: You go to Hill’s for breakfast.

LD: I had swiss steak Sunday there.

MP: Was it good?

LD: It was real good.

MP:Was it tender.

LD: Yes, I ate it with a fork. I had potatoes and gravy and steak, string beans, and a tossed salad. By Sunday night I didn’t have to eat.

RP: How many years did you run the grocery store in Elery?

LD: Four years. In 1961 Larry Miles wrote me that he wanted that. So I told him I would sell it to him. She did most of it. So they bought it from me. They ran it for three to four years. That is just when the supermarkets started coming to town. We did pretty well there from ‘57 to ‘60.

RP: We had the same thing happening in the drug store business.

LD: When Chief first opened up they would have these big specials and things sold pretty good. We would go buy a bunch of the specials and sell them in our store.

MP: We had the same thing.

LD: We made money at the store. We didn’t make just too much money. In fact from the time we bought it from Franz’s and sold it to Myles we made a little bit of money.

MP: People think these small businesses are a gold mine.

LD: You can’t tell me that.

RP: Every once in a while we would sell some Clorox. I went down to the Defiance Grocery when they were still wholesaling and I went out to Chief to see what they were selling their Clorox for. Here I could have bought it cheaper at Chief than I bought it from the Defiance Grocery Wholesale Co.

MP: You have all these big chains and naturally they buy in quantity. Then you have Walmart and they kill everybody. Small businesses can’t survive.

RP: One thing I can remember my folks eating is liver pudding.

MP: Is that the same thing?

LD: Oh no. My dad used to make that when he butchered. I like liver pudding. That is kind of greasy.

MP: Did you get a $5.00 coupon from Dollar General. Did you use it. I gave mine to somebody.

LD: I threw mine out. You had to spend I think $25.00 before you could use it.

MP: It was a good buy if you used a lot of soap or something like that.

LD: I could see for a family it would pay out. I watch when I see something like that on special. I don’t use that much and I think my clothes look clean.

MP: You never smell so you must be clean. That’s the main thing.

RP: When you had your grocery store Lum, did you have medicines in there too?

LD: Well just the ones you can buy over the counter like aspirins, Vicks and stuff like that. That was pretty good money.

RP: Who supplied you. Do you remember.

LD: The Defiance Grocery Co. did. I bought all my stuff there. That’s how I got to know

RP: Did you know Clarence Cummings? He was a salesman for Defiance Grocery.

MP: He came over to visit us during the blizzard and got stuck at our house in the drive. The boys had to push him out. He shouldn’t have even been on the highway. He was 90 some years old.

LD: I am trying to think of this guy that started Chief Supermarkets. He was back there in the Home for a while.

RP: Do you mean Florian Saur?

LD: Yes. He was in the Defiance Grocery at that time.

MP: He always worked real hard.

RP: Didn’t he originally have a store in Holgate?

MP: Did he have a store in Liberty Center too?

LD: I can’t remember. When he started that Dad still had the restaurant. He was real young yet. When he first started out he came there to the restaurant. He had a huckster wagon and he told me you are old enough to drive. Would you like to drive a huckster wagon? I didn’t know. He said come with me for a day and see what you think. Maybe you would enjoy that. It was fun. You would buy eggs if the ladies didn’t have any money to buy groceries with.

MP: So they would pay you in eggs. So basically those eggs would not have been refrigerated.

LD: You would either put them in your basement or wherever you could.

MP: Isn’t that something.

LD: And nobody ever died because the eggs weren’t refrigerated.

MP: And nobody ever got sick.

LD: Florian was a real nice guy. I didn’t work for him that long. I had the huckster wagon on the road.

RP: I remember when he came to Napoleon then and he had a grocery store here on Washington Street. I think the bought out Dirr and Beck.

LD: Florian did. I think you are right.

RP: See that Beck, his wife was a Dirr. That Dirr had quite a bit of money over at New Bavaria.

LD: He did. That Oliver Dirr he was older than Florian.

RP: It was Pete Dirr that was the big money man.

LD: Those names come back to me when you say them. I knew who they were. I even knew who all the whisky makers were in the county.

MP: Did you really?

LD: I knew who they were and they had money.

RP: About how many of them were there in the county?

LD: Oh goodness. I knew at least four or five of them.

MP: New Bavaria was noted for making whisky.

LD: They had a guy in Hamler that made whisky too.

MP: Where did they make whisky at. Was it made in their kitchen?

LD: That guy in Hamler he was just a small operator. The young guys would go there and get their whisky. He knew my dad real well so I couldn’t take the chance of buying any whisky from him.

MP: He’d tell.

RP: One of the Shaff boys, George, he died real young. He would have my dad drive his car and take him to New Bavaria to buy whisky. My mother was always so mad that my dad had to drive him. She’d tell him you are going to get into trouble buying whisky down there.

LD: My dad never had a car until I was 8 years old. It was in 1928.

RP: Did you guys use horses, a buggy, and a wagon?

LD: Yes. That’s another thing I got to do. When I was little we lived on the farm with Grampa and Grandma. Grampa would have to drive to Hamler just once a week to get the groceries. She’s say let him go along. I was just 6 years old. My brother would cry. He couldn’t go along because he was only 4. He’d say I can’t take them both. You’d get up in the old buggy, put a brick down there to put my feet on and away we’d go to town. I can remember a lot of that stuff.

MP: Did you farm with horses then?

LD: I didn’t farm for myself. I farmed for my uncle. We had tractors by then. When I got back from the service in 1945 we had tractors.

RP: I remember that Arnold Huener, his in-laws had that farm out on old Route 6. They still had horses into the ‘50’s.

MP: They were still using them after we got married. That would have been in the ‘60’s.

LD: I worked for Fred Badenhop when I was 14 years old. I helped him plow with the horses in the summer. I kind of like horses. That’s why I enjoy going down to Kentucky.

MP: There are a lot of pretty horses down there.

LD: My granddaughter lives right there in that horse country. It’s pretty to go down there in the springtime and see the new colts out in the pasture. The mares just have their colts out there in the fields.

RP: Was Albert Fahr one of your customers?

LD: Yes. If you had a woman around he was a customer. He could tell more stories.

MP: Was he married?

LD: Oh yes a couple of times. Neila knew his family. We only lived a mile from them. That’s where these kids are from, the first wife. Then she died.

MP:You mean his first wife?

LD: Yes. Those kids were all pretty small when she died. He’d be outside and Neila would go down there and visit with him. We’d be sitting out there. Ethel, which was Neila’s mothers name. She’d say I don’t know who can talk the most, but they’re both pretty good at it. All the stuff that Albert could come up with. The best one I heard was the time he come home from hunting in Pennsylvania. There weren’t many deer around here then. He’d come home from Pennsylvania and he had this deer tied to his car. He said boy I got a good one this year. I told him that’s the biggest jersey calf I ever saw.

MP: Was it a cow that was tied on his car?

LD: Yes it was a calf.

MP: Didn’t he know the difference.

LD: I think he knew he was just lying again.

SIDE TWO

RP: I remember him telling me how he would take a bag of apples and string them along on the ground. Then he would sit by a tree and watch for the deer to come along and eat the apples. He said the deer would walk right up to you and then he would shoot it.

MP: It would probably work.

LD: We sat there one night. There used to be a lot of hawks around.They would sit on the power lines. He’d be sitting there and he said for me to take a look at the new rife he had just got. I have a scope on it. He told me he’d shot one off a post from 80 rods.

MP: What was Clem’s last name.

LD: Clem Eberle.

RP:Was that Eberle related to Don Eberle’s folks?

LD: Ray, who was Don’s dad were first cousins.

RP: That Don has all kinds of Indian artifacts.

LD: That is the second generation down. His dad’s name was Don too.

MP: So that would have been Don’s grandfather.

LD: Here is another one. Don’s mother died fairly young. Don’s father remarried.

MP: So Don would have been raised by his stepmother.

LD: I think Don was pretty well raised but I think some of the younger ones were raised by the stepmother. I think his second wife was a Rauch. She had a brother in Deshler too I think. No Toledo has really changed from the ‘50’s on.

MP: Yes it has and now with all these big department stores going belly up. More and more.

LD: Did you see the new skating rink and stuff that they have built.

MP: Do you mean like the Sports Arena?

LD: Terry’s office is right across the street.

MP: Who does he work for?

LD: Seagate.

MP: Now Terry is your only son.

LD: I have one son, one granddaughter and one great granddaughter. We are not a big family.

MP: We aren’t either.

LD: So Neila and I could never get into many big arguments that way. That is one thing you gain.

MP: No fights.

LD: No Terry has retired now. A week ago Sunday he said “This is my last day”. I talked to him on the phone last night and I asked him how his retirement was going. He told me he was bored. He told them last October that he was quitting the first of March. I’m giving you plenty of time to find someone to do my job. Anyway it came retirement time and they still didn’t have anybody to do his job. He had a guy working with him, under him. He said I’ll tell you what I am going to do. He told me that guy can’t handle the job alone and I had given them plenty of time to find someone. They came begging for Terry to keep on the job. He told them that he would work three days a week which would have been twenty hours a week and that would be on my time. Only when I want to work. He told them you have got to have somebody here that can take over my job here.

MP: He was the main man.

LD: He was. He gave them two weeks and asked them if they were looking and they said no, not yet. He had told them that he wasn’t going to stay. Last night I talked to him and I asked him if he has his twenty hours in and he told me that he ended up with thirty six hours.

MP: Terry and my sister Karen are the same age.

LD: They were the 4H king and queen together. When I saw that in the paper I thought I knew that girl. I can’t believe they are retired already.

MP: To me that is the scairy part. When my oldest boy Dan turned 50 I thought Oh my gosh!

LD: Wait till he turns 62 and comes and tells you Mom I am going to retire. That really hits you.

MP: I hope there is still Social Security so these kids can retire.

LD: I’m telling you that you just don’t know what is going to happen. People have lost a lot of money with this deal going on now.

RP: The stock deals are no good now.

LD: I have no idea what a 401 is.

MP: Isn’t that where the company you work for puts some of your wages in some type of savings account.

RP: Right.

LD: He said he really lost in that.

MP: I know Sam had one and he lost money in that too.

RP: Marlene had money in National City and that’s no good now either.

MP: I lost all of that too. It just didn’t pay a thing.

LD: So far I have been lucky. I haven’t lost too much in there. Nobody is making anything either now. Just so I have enough food to eat.

MP: You’re just like me. I don’t care any more. Just so there is food on the table.

LD: How do you like your new car?

MP: Well we got that with Obama’s stimulus money. You’ll be getting a new car too.

RP: There are several countries in Europe where you reach the age of 80 that you can no longer get a drivers license.

LD: I know that. They won’t even let you drive then.

RP: I think one of them is Germany.

LD: That’s what some people have told me. If I was in Germany I wouldn’t be even allowed to drive.

MP: Maybe that is not such a bad idea.

LD: I don’t know whether it is or not. You look in the paper and how many people do you see that get killed driving. Not very many.

MP: It’s the young kids. I just saw another 14 year old girl got killed. I don’t know what happened to her.

RP: When we went to look at that one house over on Welstead where they had a big fire.

MP: You couldn’t see where anything had been burned, unless it was all on the inside. They said the roof was burned. Maybe we looked at the wrong house. Of course you have to go see.

LD: I tell you I live different from when we first moved here.

MP: I noticed.

LD: Well see I go to Perrysburg where Terry lives. When I get to Perrysburg the first thing they will ask is which way did I come. I tell them that I don’t know. I use all the back roads.

RP: A lot of times we will use Poe Road to go to Bowling Green.

LD: When I go to Bowling Green I will use Poe Road and then come back on Route 6. I like Poe Road but you need to make quite a few stops on that. I’m never in a hurry and it’s a good road now. That comes out right behind the hospital there. I don’t have to go back there until May.

MP: That’s only a couple of months away.

LD: It used to always be six months. At first it was four. I asked him why four. He said you dang bullhead make it six. If you don’t feel good call me. I was in there the other day and he said I think we have your medicine finally straightened out. Do as I told you but I would like to see you in three months. Now he wants me every three months. I like that guy. He used to be here in Napoleon.

RP: Yes our doctor had us coming every three months. Now we go every six months.

LD: That’s where I was too, but he wants to see whether my heart is still beating. If I’m not around so what, you won’t have to know. I get along real good with him. When I was in the hospital one day, you didn’t know that I was in the hospital did you.

MP: You were!

LD: Yes I was, I got so sick I called I called my niece.

MP: When was that?

LD: It was a year ago in April. I called my niece and told her I was feeling real bad and I asked her how to get to the emergency room. She told me the way you sound right now I am going to come over and pick you up. I could hardly get to my car.

MP: What was wrong with you?

LD: My darn heart didn’t want to run right. Now they got it straightened out. My doctor told them to stomp on him to get that heart going. He’s pretty bullheaded and won’t listen to you. When I got back I told my doctor I didn’t know I was bullheaded. He’s a real good guy. He was here in town and when he left we just followed him to Bowling Green. I like him, that’s Dr. Miller. As long as I can drive I will drive up there.

MP: Bowling Green isn’t that far away.

LD: If I can’t drive it, I will just go up here. I do all my blood test work up here. They do things so quick. I get my blood tested in the morning and before I get home they have called and tell me the results. I am so glad I am up here at Bavarian Village living rather than back at the farm. Of course I can’t go back down there anymore. I sold the house and buildings and turned the farm over. Terry said we are all going to move out there and you’re going to grow tomatoes and beans. I told him there is enough out there for you guys to do that. I hope the economy doesn’t get as bad as it did in the ‘30’s. I don’t think these young people can handle it. We didn’t know any better. We grew up that way.

MP: We grew up that way. We always had plenty to eat. We had a big garden, my mother canned and froze vegetables, and we’d always butcher our beef. We didn’t suffer.

RP: My boy Sam, he got laid off from Arrow True Line over in Archbold. They are connected to the housing and building industry. It doesn’t look good there either. He’s supposed to go back in six weeks but it doesn’t look good for that to even happen.

LD: These places can’t sell anything, nobody is buying, nobody is building like they used to. You see my renters run the lumber yard in Holgate and they keep saying that they have plenty of work. They have three gangs going right now.

MP: Are they Buckeye Lumber Co.?

LD: Yes their office is up here. Their boy works up here.

MP: That’s the Buckeye Building Supply, that is the Holgate Lumber. They did some work for the Historical Sociey. They remodeled the Bloomfield House, the Carriage House part.

LD: Yes, he told me. See they built that new building out there on the fairgrounds too. I get to go with them and they go out to eat and take me along. They show me different jobs that they are doing.

MP: That way you get to know what’s going on.

RP: When we were still running the store, we had those big old wood doors for the opening of our outdoor cellar, this kid came along and set a fire back there, and the fire burned those doors. I called up Mel Lanzer and I wanted new doors put on and of course I asked him for an estimate. He gave me an estimate of five thousand dollars. I thought I had better check somewhere else. Holgate Lumber keeps advertising so I called them up and they wanted only five hundred dollars. So they didn’t come and they didn’t come and it got to be almost a year and it still wasn’t repaired. They said they were so busy. So I called Mike Austermiller and asked him to fix it and he came right away and only charged me $150.00.

LD: You just had to wait a little while. I don’t know, they just seem to be busy all the time.

RP: I was going to let Holgate do it, but they never got around to it.

MP:How did Neila start getting in the beauty shop business?

LD: She went to beauty school right after high school. She went to Ft. Wayne.

MP: Did she ever fix hair in Ft. Wayne or did she come right back home.

LD: She came back home here. When I went into the service she was working for Helen Yackee here. When I came home she opened her own shop right here in the summer kitchen.

MP: You mean out on the farm?

LD: Yes. She did that for a couple of years. All the women she got was people she knew. She did them for a lot less. Then it got to the point where they would bring their own home style permanent from home and want Neila to do it for them. Then they would just give her a dollar. I told her you can’t expect to make much money, you had better go to work. So when Terry went off to college she went to work at Campbell’s. So she never got rich running the beauty shop.

MP: I think they do now at this time.

LD: I think they make pretty good now. What do they get now 40 to 50 bucks just for a perm?

MP: It runs around $35.00 more or less.

LD: She always set her own hair. We never had to pay for that.

MP: You were lucky.

MP: So did she do it with pin curls?

LD: I don’t know. She had all kinds of stuff in there. I had boxes of that stuff. I didn’t know what to do with it so I threw it out. I gave some of it away. I have it all pretty well cleaned out. I told the family to take what they want and they said we have all we want. I am going to get rid of it. I said I am done.

MP: Those were the good old days.

LD: Yep. We have lived through the best years. You stop and think I came from horse and buggies to cars and now we fly everywhere.

MP: That is what I always told about my dad. He started with the horse and buggies, the the automobile, and then he went to the airplanes and from there we now have the space ships. Now they are going to the moon and back. It blows your mind.

LD: Then I keep thinking what else can they do. They always come up with something new.

MP: They will think of something else. Next they will go to Mars.

LD: And people will live on the moon. Not in my time and not in yours, but they will do it. Your kids or your grandkids might see that.

MP: It’s a different world out there. Well Pops do you think we should wrap it up

RP: Do you have any more questions for Lum?

MP: I think we have covered quite a bit of territory and some maybe we shouldn’t have.

LD: You got the muskrat story.

MP: I still think the muskrats is the best part. I could listen to you tell that story over and over. I just can’t imagine people eating muskrats.

LD: That is a true story.

MP: I believe it.

LD:The turkeys was another story. At that time we could put them on a train cheaper than we could truck them to Buffalo. We could get 3 to 4 truckloads on just one train car you know.

MP: Were you drafted in the Army?

LD: Yes.

MP:Where did you end up serving?

LD: I went overseas with the boys and got hit twice. Do you remember Eldon Koppenhoffer?

MP: The name is familiar. What was his wife’s name?

LD: It was Elnora.

MP: Elnora was one of Alvin Miller’s daughters from Gerald.

LD: Yep. Him and I went into the service on the same day. Hy Travis was in that. There was a big bunch of us. Him and I we stayed together. We went to Camp Perry. We were in the same company. I was in the infantry and I didn’t like all the walking we had to do. Eldon was a little timid and he knew a sergeant , well it was Helen Shiarla’s husband. So Eldon and I we had a chance to get out and we joined the light artillary. That guy drove company commanders all over and he never got hit. I never saw him after we hit the beach. I got hit 70 days in. I am not going to tell you but it hurt. But in ten days I was back with my company. Then in the Battle of the Bulge I got hit and I got shipped back to England. Then they lost my papers. I could have come home because nobody knew where I was. I didn’t have any money, I couldn’t even go across the street.

MP: Did they lose anybody elses papers?

LD: So they shipped me here and there and they finally got me shipped back to Germany. Most of the time I was waiting for my papers to show up. I couldn’t get paid. This went on for over a month. I couldn’t get paid. The pay wasn’t much the way it was. I couldn’t even buy a pack of cigarettes and I was still smoking then. Finally I went to the Red Cross. They gave me $20.00. Then when it came time to get paid I had used up my 20.00. I didn’t get paid and I still didn’t have any money. Finally they found my papers and they shipped me back and do you know when I got back to my company it was the day the war ended. I hadn’t seen Eldon all this time from the beach. They told me there would be a Jeep to pick me up and take me back to my company. The Jeep pulls up here it is Eldon that is doing the driving. I hadn’t seen him from the day we were at the beach. Him and I we were always pretty close.

MP: What was he doing like driving the generals around?

LD: He was driving the company commanders around. He was a captain and I guess it kept us all alive. He’d get lost every now and then. I was just lucky I transferred. I was using these little stubby Howitzer’s We were always about a mile to a mile and a half behind the front lines. One night orders came down that we were pulling out. The next morning we wind up and we are lost. He had made the wrong turn. We made it back. I had a little pickup truck. I was the gun commander. I had three different guns. The reason I got hit I got foolish. We couldn’t did a hole so we moved the people out of their houses and we moved in. The Germans blew up their own houses.

MP: You mean you moved the Germans out of their houses.

LD: No, they were the Belgiums we moved out.

MP: Where did they go then?

LD: I don’t know.

RP: Do you remember this Wally Praet from town here? He got in the Army. His folks were from Belgium.

MP: Was Wally born in Belgium?

RP: Yes he was born in Belgium. He served in the Battle of the Bulge and he reocognized his aunts house. He went and hid in her house.

LD: I still have a hole in my shoulder from that.

MP: Did you get hit in your shoulder?

LD: That one don’t hurt. The other one is where I got Arthur in.

MP: Did you get hit in both of your shoulders? Where did you get hit at was it in your butt.

LD: Worse than that. No, I just got some shrapnel down between my legs.

MP: That would have been ouchy.

LD: No that wasn’t just too bad. I was gone for two days. The other one they sent me clear back to England.

RP: I had a great uncle who served in World War I and he said he was holding horses and a shell hit this one horse and it blew the head off the horse and he got splattered with blood all over him. Then later on he got gassed. He always suffered from that.

LD: There was a ot of gas in the First World War. I guess that’s why I am a little hard headed. We’ve lost 4,000 troops by now. We lost that many that first day.

MP: You mean in Iraq?

LD: In Iraq we have lost 4.000. We lost 4,000 the first day we hit the beach.

MP: You just wonder. I always trusted Bush, but I don’t know.

LD: Right or wrong I don’t know either.’

MP: I have mixed feelings.

LD: That’s what always get me. We lost 4,000 in just one day. We are fighting ourselves.

MP: Of course those people have been fighting wars of some sort for years and years.

RP: Those people over there it has become their way of life.

LD: I keep telling Terry this stuff and he tells me to shut up. You are too old to worry about that stuff. I tell him you guys are going to have to live in this world too.

MP: It’s going to effect your granddaughter’s generation.

LD: I can’t worry about it anymore.

END OF TAPE

Creager, Ralph

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, May 12, 2012, Liberty Center, Ohio

Transcribed by Marlene Patterson

(Photo at left taken October 6, 2014.)

CW: Please tell us your name.

RC: My name is Ralph Creager. My great great grandfather Calvin C. Young was very instrumental in the starting of Liberty Center.

CW: Oh really.

RC: The earliest thing that I have written down that tells about the time he came to Liberty Center was 1849.

CW: That was pretty early.

RC: Shortly after that the Wabash Railroad was going to put a line through this area and they were going to have a station at Colton, but Calvin’s property was in the Liberty Center area so he went to the railroad to see if they would put a siding in to Liberty Center. The way it finally wound up, he offered to build a railroad station and to man it if they would put in a siding. So one thing led to another happened and that is why Liberty Center has a railroad station. The original railroad station, a small one story wood building now resides on Maple Street here in Liberty Center.

CW: It is right down the street.

RC: It was made into a house and some years ago someone put an addition on the back to make it bigger, but he (Calvin) became the stationmaster and studied Morse code so he could run the telegraph.

CW: Is that right.

RC: And directly across the street from the location of the hardware he built a building which was a combination store and house and he lived there.

CW: Now where on Maple street was this? Was it close to where the downtown is now or farther east?

RC: Do you mean that little house. It is farther East. It is just over here oh maybe three or four houses down.

CW: From here

RC: Yes from here. His farm was on Maple street and it ran from the Dairy Queen corner this way and down to the corporation limit going south.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: He had 80 acres that I know of and at one time he owned another 40 acres attached to it.

CW: Way back then 80 acres was a pretty good sized farm.

RC: Because it had trees on it and he had to clear it.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: The family doesn’t really remember him as a farmer, but he was a woodworker and he ran mercantile stores in town.

CW: He was a man of all trades.

RC: Yes he was a man of all trades. In 1865 he made an addition to Liberty Center. I think there were ten lots on the corner of Maple and Damascus Street, and they are still there. That was an addition to Liberty Center. It is still called Calvin C. Young First Addition. He was an interesting man. Our family has always been proud of him.

CW: They were rightly proud. He was probably a wheeler and dealer I bet.

RC: He was an interesting man and our family has always been proud of him. We don’t necessarily consider him to have been only a farmer. He came here from a little town named Scott in central New York state. From the south end of what is known as the finger lakes.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: That is the area they came from. We have often wondered how they got here because that was in the days of the great Black Swamp and transportation on land was not very good. Since they were in that area of New York.

CW: I have been there.

RC: Have you. This is my own personal opinion that they might have gone north over land to the Erie Canal. That would have carried them to Buffalo. Then they could have come across Lake Erie to Toledo and come out here on the Canal. Now that is all supposition on my part.

CW: Well it sounds reasonable.

RC: It was the easiest way to travel because the rest of it was not good.

CW: There were so many trees everywhere. I read about a family that walked from Pennsylvania through Ohio and they never saw the sun because of the trees.

RC: Because they made a canopy.

CW: Do you know of any members of his family that came with him.

RC: Yes. Calvin was married twice, three times as a matter of fact. He had ten children. If you want to shut your thing down for a minute I’ll see if I can find this information for you.

CW: Oh we can look at some pictures here.

(Far eft: Melvin Clifford Young. He was born in 1879 and died in 1961.)

(Left: Ralph Earl Young is on the right. and on the left is his older brother Melvin Young.)

Pictures were taken in Toledo.

 

RC: This is my own grandfather. His name was Melvin Clifford Young and he lived here.

CW: He is a distinquished looking gentleman isn’t he.

RC: He was a poor man. I don’t think he ever owned any property. He was a farmer. Years ago around 1900 these boys were born. This little one is my father and the bigger one is his brother. They had another son and daughter after this, but anyway around 1900 or before he was a conductor on a street car in Toledo. He was born here in Liberty but he migrated to Toledo. Then after a while he came back and he was a farmer.

CW: Were there any streetcars that came out towards Liberty. I know there were some around Deshler.

RC: The closest one here followed the New York Central Railroad and went through Swanton, Wauseon, Archbold, and Delta and down around Stryker and Bryan, and I think on to Elkhart; Indiana.

CW: A streetcar isn’t that something.

RC: This was a thing that I put together and you can carry it with you. There is more history of Liberty Center in it.

CW: I would like to borrow that.

RC: This goes back two generations beyond Calvin. They came from New England. Thomas, you see my great-grandfather. He was a born in 1875. He had a bunch of children.

CW: This says 1775.

RC: Yes

CW: His children were from 1871. They probably didn’t know for sure. Look at the number of children. There is twelve here.

RC: Then you get, you see it goes down through Daniel, and it comes down here to Calvin. He was born in 1825, and that tells about his children and what happened to them.

CW: That is a neat genealogy you have. You did a lot of work.

RC: I had a copy, I don’t know if it is in here, it may be in the back, a hand written copy. Calvin’s wife, this tells about each of the children and what happened to them. Then there is a part here as to who was Calvin. Tlhis is still not my original. This genealogy I gleaned from a hand written article, and I have no idea what I did with it. It was written by Calvin’s last wife. So I was able to get some first hand information from her.

CW: Oh yes. That would be valuable.

RC: This is, you will have to take this with you.

CW: Yes I would like to and then I will be sure to bring it back to you.

RC: Well I think I have it. This is the type written copy of the hand written copy. It was originally written in 1890.

CW: Oh for heavens sake!

RC: That is in there too.

CW: Yes we can just make copies of those.

RC: You will have to study that.

CW: Yes, it will be interesting to read. This work is very worthwhile. Somebody did a lot of work.

RC: Several years ago, if you notice down by the cemetery there is a placard up to Calvin C. Young as being one of the founders of Liberty Center. There is one up north and one down by the cemetery. So they wanted me to tell them what I knew abut Liberty Center. I put this thing together for them. That took some time to do too. As far as we know and this is general knowledge that one of the original settlers in this area was a man named Scribner, and he homesteaded or bought, one or the other, and he bought a lot of land starting from the river and coming this way. I forgot his first name.

CW: Was he related to the Scribner publishing man?

RC: I don’t know. But this Scribner llived down here by Damascus. He built the first sawmill in Henry County. It was out here at Dry Creek. Exactly where I don’t know, but he built the first sawmill . In fact the Young’s bought this piece of property, not this piece, but down to the corner from Scribner. There was a schoolhouse that sat down on Roads 6C or something, down towards the river. There was a schoolhouse there years ago that was named Scribner School. Warren Sharp bought the Scribner School and moved it a half mile north and a mile east from his farm and made a workshop out of it. I was a little boy, really little, about four years old and I got to see them move it.

CW: That would have been exciting for a little kid.

RC: Yes it was exciting. The reason I got to see it, that on the corner of 6C and Road S, was where I was born. A mile south and a mile east of Liberty Center. That is where I was born.

CW: Was that along the river?

RC: There is a bridge on Road S right there close and the house was right beside it.. That old farm now is 80 acres was bought by the State of Ohio when they put in the new Route 24. They are now making it a wildlife preserve. They have constructed a wetlands, a new wetlands.,except for the little triangle that the house sits on. That is still part of the field. Anyway, back about the schoolhouse, the house was up on a bit of a hill and I was able to sit there and watch them come down the road from the south and go east. I remember this very plainly.

CW: Is this when they were moving the schoolhouse.

RC: Yes this was when they were moving the schoolhouse. The road south of Road S was yellow sand and I remember the men had to lay planks down for the big rollers to roll on, so they wouldn’t get stuck. I remember this as plain as day.

CW: It wasn’t muck.

RC: No, It was yellow sand.

CW: Was it deep?

RC: Right on that, the road went up a hill right there the sand was very deep. In the summertime, the sand was just as bad as mud. That farm, I don’t know how much detail you want to know, but

CW: As much as you can remember.

RC: That farm was owned by a family named Rogge.

CW: I have heard that name before.

RC: My grandfather rented it from him. There are some of the Rogge descendents around here. He was the grandfather of Marvin Mueller. Do you know Marvin Mueller?

CW: I knew Carl Mueller from Tony’s Bakery.

RC: No, This was Marvin Mueller, well there were several in Marvin’s family. They were related to the Rogge. Yes, I was born on that farm.

CW: Tell me again just where that farm was.

RC: It is a mile south of Liberty and then east on Road S. And the farm started at Road 7 and went another half mile east to Road 6. It is in that section. In fact if there weren’t any trees I could see the house where I was born. Speaking about that time I was born there on January 10, 1924 at my grandfather’s home.

CW: The babies were all born on kitchen tables back then.

RC: Right. My mother told me it was on a Thursday and it rained all day in January. No snow.

CW: Were you the oldest in the family?

RC: That is another story. I was an only child at that time. My father whose name was Ralph Earl Young, he is the little one in that picture, he was born in Toledo during the time that my grandfather was a conductor on the streetcar line. They came back to Liberty when he was small. He graduated from Liberty Center High School in 1919. He went to work as a clerk in the Liberty Center State Savings Bank. He always had a desire that he wanted to work for the railroad. Well, somehow or other, I don’t tknow that part of the story. He acquired a job on the railroad and he was the fireman on a switch engine in the railroad yards in Toledo. He was 22 years old and he got typhoid fever and they broke up their household in Toledo and moved back to Grampa Youngs. He died there in October 1923. I wasn’t born until January, 1924. So he died three months before I was born.

CW: My goodness.

RC: My mother and I lived with Grandma and Grampa until August of 1925 and she married a man named Fred Creager. Well, my Grandmother Young was broken up because of my Dad dying. She didn’t want my stepfather to adopt me, so I always went by the name of Young until after I had finished high school. My Dad and my Mom we talked about it and one day in the summer of 1941 and my Dad said to me that you know we have been talking about changing your name to Creager and since you are going off to college this fall I think this would be an opportune time. So in August of 1941 we changed my name to Creager.

CW: That would have been just before World War II broke out.

RC: Yes

CW: That broke out in December.

RC: In fact I have another story about that, but that is how my name became Creager. I went through the School of Applied Science in Cleveland and became a Chemical Engineer in three years because the Navy had taken over the school. I found out that the Navy did not take summer vacations during wartime.

CW: So you stayed and worked.

RC: The local draft board knew that I wanted to finish school and since I was studying chemical engineering they gave me oh about four or five months deferrment. I remember a man named Baughman was the head of that draft board. He said we are going to let you finish school, but as soon as you are out of school you are in the Army. So I graduated from college in August of 1944 on the 20th. On the 19th of September I was in the Army. I served two years with the Army, most of them with the counter intelligence force in Japan. During that time in June of 1945 a young lady by the name of Margaret Jean Lance from Cleveland Heights and I were married. Then I went overseas after that. I was discharged on October 1st of 1946. I had to tell people that my grandson here that you just saw was the same age as I was when I left for service. In those 23 years I went to grade school, high school, college, got married and spent two years in the Army, got home and I was only 23 years old.

CW: You lived a very full life.

RC: I lived pretty fast.

CW: Yes you did.

RC: That took in a big period of time. Speaking of Jean she was a student at Western Reserve, and that is how I met her. We had three children, Cheryl Lynn who was born in 1950, Mary Beth, who was born in 1953, and Julie Amelia, who was born in 1957, and now they are spread all over. Cheryl, the oldest one lives in Bradenton, Florida. Mary Beth, the middle one lives in Chicago, and Julie, the youngest one lives by Waco, Texas.

CW: They have a way of getting spread out, don’t they.

RC: I keep in contact with all of them. Cell phones do pretty well for this. Cheryl is a graduate nurse at the University of Michigan. Then she went back and got a Masters Degree in Home Health Care Administration. She now is retired. Mary Beth studied Library Science, and all her life she was a Librarian. She worked nine years for the Toledo Public Library, and the rest of the time here in Liberty Center as Director of the Liberty Center Library. You might have come across her.

CW: What is her married name?

RC: Slee. That is spelled S l e e.

CW: I remember her, she is a very nice young lady.

RC: She is very sharp.

CW: Yes

RW And my youngest daughter Julie went to college for a year or more, and she gave it up, got married and she wound up in Waco, Texas. They have one son who is a Freshman at Baylor University in Waco.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: Mary Beth had three children, two boys and one girl. The oldest boy Eric, lives in Los Angeles. Erin, a girl lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tate lives here with me.

CW: Isn’t that nice that he can stay here with you and help you out. There is nothing like being in your own home.

RC: Oh yes. I am pretty self-sufficient. You saw me hobbling around, but they do things for me that I can’t get done. Cheryl, the oldest girl could never have children. They adopted a boy who was seven years old. He is now thirty-six years old. After I came home from the Army I had made contact before I went into the Army with Standard Oil Company in Cleveland. After the war when I got home my dad, he wasn’t an old man, but he was badly crippled with arthritis, and how he worked I don’t know. He asked me and he said what are you going to do now. I said well maybe I will go with the Standard Oil Co. if they will hire me. He said will you stay home and work for a year because he couldn’t get help. He couldn’t buy machinery or haul those things that the war had brought on. I told him, yes I will stay and help you for a year. When my brother got home a few months later he asked him the same thing. Bruce, my brother said that he would stay and work too. That was in the end of 1946, so we worked the summer of 1947 on the road. On January 1st of 1948 he said can you both come over to the house. We went over to his house and he said I’ll tell you worked good for the year you promised. Now I have a proposition for you. Of course we were interested in what he was going to say.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: He said if you will stay on here and run the business, I will make the business a three way partner. So he gave us each a third of the business. So we stayed.

CW: What was the name of this company?

RC: Fred Creager and Sons.

CW: Oh, the cement company.

RC: We did cement, built houses, but our main thing was asphalt. We paved roads. We both stayed. Dad died in 1960. He was only sixty-five years old. It was a result of his arthritis and hardening of the arteries and a stroke. He turned sixty-five on the thirteenth of June and died on the twenty-third. It was bitter-sweet.

CW: Yes, there was a Creager that lived on West Washington St.

RC: That was my Uncle Pearl. He was my step-fathers brother. He built roads also. That is what he did. The Creager’s started building stone roads and this is a give and take date, in 1912. Our grandfather started that.

CW: That has been a company for a long time.

RC: We had it for fifty-nine years and sold it and went to work for the people who bought it from us.

CW: Let them have the headaches.

RC: Well, that was in 1971. As late as 1960 and up through 1971 it became harder and harder to finance a road job with your own personal money.

CW: It took more capital by them.

RC: All the time. We made money on our jobs, and by the end of the year we found out we had taken most of it down to the bank. The interest was high. If you go out and do $5,000 dollars worth of work every day and the State doesn’t pay you for two months your bills pile up. So we sold it. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. I went to work for Johnson Company and Bruce decided he wanted to do something else. I worked for Johnson Co. seventeen years.

CW: What do they make?

RC: They have stone quarries and blacktop plants. They build bridges. They pave roads.

CW: It would have been the same sort of thing.

RC: Yes, I was back into the same type of business. They gave me the job of, for the first five years since I knew all these people out here in this area, the county engineer, they made me a Public Relations man. I spent most of the time visiting these people. At the end of that time or even before, the man who was in charge of the EPA for the companies got sick and they asked me to come and help. Well he eventually had to leave the company for health reasons. I became the head of the EPA as well as doing my Public Relations job. I did some engineering for the stone company, they were going to build a plant. Then OSHA came in. So they needed somebody to head up the OSHA. So then I was EPA and OSHA.

CW: Were you the head of both of them?

RC: Yes, when they first started. So the OSHA got to be a big thing, and the Safety Director had retired so I became the Safety Director too, which wasn’t too bad as it tied in with OSHA. When i was sixty-four I decided I had enough, so I retired. “Dog starts barking wildly” Do you remember when we had sonic booms from the airplanes? They were caused by the fighter pilots out of Toledo. They said that it wouldn’t crack the plaster in your house. People would complain that the boom had cracked their plaster and they said it can’t be. I have one crack in this house and I was right there when it happened. It was caused by a sonic boom.

CW: So you could see it when it happened.

RC: Yes I saw it. Now they have made the pilots quit doing that. Those training pilots would come out would have to dive-bomb to pass the 660 miles per hour. That is what caused the sonic boom. They were going faster than the speed of sound. A strange phenomenon happens. With the change of energy is what causes the sonic boom. The pilots don’t do it anymore now.

CW: I can remember hearing those things.

RC: They were loud. Back talking before, I don’t know how detailed you want to go . Talking about houses I hope that whoever buys this house does not decide to paint this woodwork white. These are all premium birch doors. The baseboards and the trim were all made at Sauder Manufacturing.

CW: Oh that is where they make the church pews.

RC: Nowadays they build this type of thing.

CW: There has been a big change.

RC: The Liechty boys weren’t satisfied with what they could buy at the lumber yard. Sauder made the baseboard and the trim around. You can’t even buy that birch nowadays.

CW: Is that right.

RC: I had to remodel my lavoratory and I had to buy enough, maybe fourteen feet of baseboards, I couldn’t buy birch, so I had to take oak. I was telling my daughters when you sell this house you tell them not to paint these doors. You can’t buy them anymore.

CW: Yes

RC: They were expensive even in 1954.

CW: You just wonder how much longer they will be able to keep cutting down trees.

RC: Did you notice the logs out by Damascus Bridge, on the corner.

CW: No, I haven’t been down there.

RC: You didn’t come down Route 109.

CW: No, I came out Road T.

RC: I think the logs are from Holgate. There is a sawmill in Holgate. They have a yard right on the corner of 109 and Road 24. They store their logs in before they take them to the sawmill. They are big trees. There are lots of them.

CW: Where are they getting them from?

RC: Well, I know one place on the other side of the river after you go across South Turkeyfoot Creek you will come to the two King properties. You know those two big brick houses. Levi King is on the right hand and I don’t know who the other King is that lives on the other side.

CW: Is that the road that runs along the river?

RC: Yes, it is on the south side of the river. There are two great big brick houses.

CW: Yes, I know.

RC: North of the one that is on the north side of the road, at the edge of the river there was always almost like a native woods there. There was always a woods there as long as I can remember. I think they are getting some logs out of that. I think too that they cut logs from from that tornado that went through here a couple of years ago.

CW: Yes a tornado will take them down for you.

RC: So I don’t know, but I think their name is Wagner. Their sawmill is down there by Holgate, or maybe New Bavaria.

CW: Isn’t there a Wagner Sawmill. I have seen their sign just south of Holgate.

RC: I think they are the people that are harvesting these trees. One day you go by and the lot will be empty. The next day you go by and the lot is piled real high with logs. They haul them away. There is a lot of them.

CW: You would think they could use some of these huge old beams they have in these old barns that are falling down, but they don’t.

RC: Well a lot of them are not in good condition. Those barns were built a hundred years ago. A lot of those beams have dry rot in them or something.

CW: Oh I see.

RC: But, people do use them. Somebody might want a fancy beam in their house . We built houses for nine years.

CW: Oh you did!

RC: In 1962 we bought a lumber yard.

END OF TAPE


ADDITIONAL WRITTEN HISTORICAL INFORMATION PROVIDED BY RALPH CREAGER

WHO WAS CALVIN C. YOUNG?

Calvin C. Young was born March 31, 1825 in the Village of Scott, Cortland County. New York. At the age of 24 he moved to Henry County, Ohio arriving in 1849 and lived in Liberty Center until his death on March 1, 1911.

He was the husband of three wives and the father of ten children. Two of the children were born in Scott, New York. The other eight were born in Henry County, Ohio.

He must have been an energetic person because he cleared his farm and evidently continued as a farmer even though he followed other business pursuits. One would have to say he was an entrepreneur, because he promoted various businesses.

He must have had great foresight realizing what might be good for the community where he lived. Along with the farming, he was engaged in the mercantile business. He was also engaged in woodworking since he built a woodworking shop. It is also believed that he built houses, not only his own, but several others along the North boundary of his farm along Maple Street.

He became the Postmaster and was certified as a Notary Public.

Probably one of his ventures that proved most valuable to the community was his success in persuading the Wabash railroad to place a switch track in the town. He was also the station master and telegrapher. At no cost to the railroad.

He donated land for a cemetery — Young — which is still in use.

He was an enthusiastic and devoted Free and Accepted Mason and never missed a meeting of his beloved order when it was at all possible for him to attend. So faithful was he that, in the earlly days before Liberty Center had a lodge, it was nothing unusual for him to walk to Napoleon to attend the lodge meetings. He was one of the oldest Masons in Henry County having been made an Entered Apprentice in Napoleon Lodge No. 256 on September 2, 1862 and passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on March 31, 1863. He was raised to the degree of Master Mason on June 2, 1863. He remained a member of the Napoleon lodge until October 18, 1877 at which time Liberty Center Lodge No. 518 was chartered. He was one of the seventeen charter members. He was the lodge treasurer for nearly 30 years.

In 1867, he plotted and added twelve lots to the village. This was the second plotted sub-division in the village.

He has been deemed the “Father of Liberty Center” not because he was the first founder but because he seemed to be the sparkplug needed to get things organized. His leadership did inspire others to create businesses and homes and this resulted into the Village of Liberty Center.

THE CALVIN C. YOUNG FAMILY
Information supplied by Esther Amanda (Eldredge) Young
February 23, 1890

The family of Calvin Cheney Young lived in the village of Scott in Cortland County, New York for several generations before moving to Henry County, Ohio. The earliest one that there is a record of was named Thomas. He married a widow who had one son named Peleg Allen. After their marriage, they had eleven more sons together. So Thomas really had twelve sons. The sons after Peleg Allen were — Thomas; George, Winthrop, Clayton, Silas, John, Simeon, Ebenezer, Johnathan and David (twins) and Daniel T. Daniel T. is the one that played an the most important part in the life of Calvin C.

Daniel T. Young was married to Hannah Cheney. They were the parents of five children —-Polly (who died while a baby), Fidelia, Calvin Cheney, born March 31,1825, Charles (who died while a baby) and Martin C. The Daniel T. Young family moved to Henry County, Ohio in 1849 and settled in Liberty Township. Daniel T. died on April 27, 1871 and his wife Hannah died on July 14, 1875 in Liberty Center, Henry County, Ohio. They are both buried in Young Cemetary in Liberty Center.

Fidelia, daughter of Daniel, married Ward Woodward. This couple had six children – Malina, Mary, Amelia, Hellen, Samantha and Frankie ( who died while a baby).

Martin C., also known as C.M., married Francis Smith they had five children. They were — Delia, Frances, Eddie (who died while a baby), Charles and William. Martin C. died in Lockport, New York on October 8, 1888.

Calvin Cheney married Lucy Ann Eldredge, born August 1825, in Scott New York. This marriage produced two children — Charles Orlando born May 13, 1845 and George David, born September 6, 1847, Lucy Ann died.

After Lucy Ann had died, Calvin married Esther Amanda Eldredge, who was born in September 1826, and they had eight children. Their children were — Julia Amanda born November 6, 1850 and died February 19, 1884. Jewett Otis born May 12, 1852, Dwight Cheny born September 1, 1854. Dorr D. born December 1, 1857 and died December 9, 1858. Delia Abba born January 7,1860, Ward Woodward born June 14, 1862, Lucy Anna born January 7, 1864 and Cora Hellen born October 19, 1866.

Charles Orlando was born May 13, 1845 in Scott, New York. He never married. He died in October of 1869 in Philadelphia where he had gone to take his last or graduating course of medical lectures.

George David was also born in Scott, New York on September 6, 1847. Evidently, he moved with his father and step mother to Henry County when he was two years old. He married Esther A. Ferguson, who was born September 13, 1826 and died in the fall of 1873. This couple had one son — James D.

After the death of Esther, George married Elisabeth Burgess and had five more children —Fred, Charles, Melvin Clifford, born March 31, 1879, Vida, and Grace.

Julia Amanda, born November 4 1850, married William J Gasser and had four children — Charles A., Nettie (who died before she was 2 years old)., Minnie (who died before she was 2 years old), and Eddie (who died before he was 3 years old). Julia died on Feb. 19,1884. She and the babies are buried in Young cemetery.

Jewett Otis, born May 12, 1852 married Tillie Avery. They had one son Gurney who was born in October 1885.

Dwight Cheney, born September 1, 1854, married Ellen Hales. Their family consisted of Winnie who died when only a few weeks old, Gertie who died at about 4 years old, Dorr who was born November 16, 1880 and Bessie who was born March 1, 1884 and died August 27, 1889. Allen died about six days after Bessie on September 2, 1889. After Allen’s death Dwight married Sylvia Jones.

Delia Abba Young, born January 7, 1860, married Charles M. Showman on November 9, 1881.To this couple was born the following chidren — Cloyce M. born November 12, 1882, Melville B. born May 18, 1884, Meme born September 8, 1885 and Louvinia Amanda born January 29, 1890.

Ward Woodward, born June 14, 1862, married Adella M. Haag on August 7, 1889. They had one son named Eldon.

Lucy Anna Young, born January 7, 1864, married William Ferguson on November 9,1882. They had one child Gale L. born September 28, 1882. While they owned property in Liberty Center, they moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. William worked in New York.

Cora Hellen Young born October 16, 1866. Hellen never married and lived at home with Calvin C. and Esther Amanda.

Esther Amanda Young died in 1893. After her death, Calvin C. married Sarah A. (Pinney) Geering. Sarah Pinney was born on November 7, 1840 in Erie, Pennsylvania. She married J. W. Geering in 1878. Her husband died in 1880 in Washington Twp.

After Calvin C. died on March 1, 1911, Sarah continued to live in Liberty Center where she was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Order of Eastern Stars. Her active interest in foreign missions caused her to maintain a Women’s Mission and a scholarship at Vicarabad in India and she also built, at a cost of $700.00, a school house in Corea. (also known as Korea in some languages) She worked toward raising $3000.00 for a mission house and institute also in Corea. Her charity at home was no less extensive, though not as well known. She was constantly devising plans for the benefit of public and educational institutions.

INTRODUCTION September 22, 2001

The remarks I have prepared for today are to provide a short history of the Village of Liberty Center and one of its more illustrious “founding fathers”. I must say “one” of its founders because actually there were many persons who contributed to the reason Liberty Center came into existence.

The area around Liberty Center evidently attracted the attention of adventurous people around the time of the French and Indian War. The site of Damascus was the location of two different Indian tribes and shortly thereafter a trading post started by Samuel Vance about 1816. It is not a proven fact, but the Damascus site might have been chosen because it might have been a place where the river could be forded. Some of you remember the islands and sand bars in that area.

Another reason this area was popular was drainage. The Great Black Swamp covered most of the area South of the Maumee but on the North side the area was drained both by three creeks — Bad Creek, Dry Creek, and Turkeyfoot Creek.

There were settlers in the area some forty-three years before the incorporation of Liberty Center and twenty-nine years before the Young family arrived. Some of the early names in the area were —Biggins, Hales, Reed, Steambarge, Rathburn, Woodward, Chamberlain, and Merriman. In fact, Henry County was chartered in 1820 and the 1840 census showed there were 2492 people here and by 1860 there were 8901.

Finally in 1863, there were enough people that Alphius Buchanan saw the need for a trading center in Liberty Township and proceeded to plot a village. Others added to the process and Liberty Center was born.

The data presented today is taken from a number of articles published in various books. You may well find some contradictions to your memory. Don’t feel badly — there are contradictions in the published articles also.

Daniel Young purchased the property on October 2, 1849 for $800.00 or $10.00 per acre. Calvin C. Young evidently inherited this farm on March 3, 1863 at least he only paid $1.00 for it.

The 1849 date when the Youngs acquired this farm coincides with the date they arrived in the area.

Thus the availability of the “canal lands” led to the settlement of this area and the eventual establishment of Liberty Center.

In 1849 the canal was in full operation. The first canal boat from Cincinnati having arrived in Toledo on June 27, 1845. There are no published records available to tell how the Young family arrived in Liiberty Township, but they could have traveled part of the way on the canal.

The nearest post office was located in the Damascus area. It was established there on September 3, 1819 and was operated by Charles Gunn. Samuel Vance became postmaster in on March 19, 1825. The office was closed in 1868.

Even though the “canal lands” sales were not available until about 1844, there were settlers in the area as early as 1820. A Mr. Biggins, in Washington Township, acquired a land grant to purchase land from the Federal government in that year.

Edwin Scribner, the first owner of the C. C. Young farm was in the area of Damascus as early as 1814. Sometime before the start of the canal construction, he erected a “thundergust sawmill” on the banks of Dry Creek in the area of what is now known as the Robert Bortel farm.

THE VILLAGE OF LIBERTY CENTER

The village of Liberty Center, though located some two miles from it, partly owes its existence to the canal. During the planning stages of the canals in 1827, the Congress of the United States granted Indiana millions of acres of land along the canal route to help finance its constuction. But this action would have resulted in Indiana’s owning and controlling 250,000 acres in Ohio. Indiana agreed to relinquish its right to these lands if Ohio would pay for the construction in Ohio. Ohio proceeded to sell this land to raise the required money and construction was started.

The only documented land sale that I have available is for the parcel that eventally wound up belonging to Calvin Cheney Young and which became a portion of the Village of Liberty Center. this parcel is described as — the West half of the Northeast quarter of section 36, Townshp six North, Range seven East in the County of Henry in the State of Ohio. This section borders State Route 109 on the West and Maple Street on the North. Its Northwest corner is at the Dairy Bar Intersection.

This land, containing 80 acres, was sold by the State of Ohio to Edwin Scribner for the amount of $120.00 or $1.50 per acre. The date of this sale was November 10, 1843.

The next owner was Samuel J. Meader who paid $500.00 or $6.25 per acre. The date was December 11, 1844. This was the first sawmill in Henry County and the first business to be established on land in the Liberty Center area.

In 1855 the railroad was completed, this was another boost to the area. About 1858, Calvin C. Young persuaded the railroad people to put in a switch track. In exchange he agreed to build a building, at his own expense, to be used as a station. He agreed to man the station for no compensation and even learned telegraphy so the town would have a communication link. So, Liberty Center was placed on the railroad map. The old station was moved to East Maple Street, where it still stands and is used as part of a residence.

Also in about 1858, C. C. built a carpenter’s shop on East Maple Street about on the site where Wright’s funeral home is located. About the time the Civil War broke out, he built a home on East Maple Street. It is the house that Charles Grundy now lives in. The original Young home had been down by Dry Creek.

On July 4, 1863, Alphas Buchanan first conceived the idea of establishing a trading post in Liberty Township and on that day recorded 12 lots on the South side of the Wabash railroad. To these were added a second and third addition.

On January 19, 1867 Calvin C. Young added an additional 12 lots and on June 7, 1868, E. T. Coon added 10 more lots with the requisite streets and alleys.

Liberty Center was the second incorporated village in Henry County.

By 1858, some three years after the coming of the railroad, the village really began to take form. The “town” was covered with more or less groves of saplings and shrubs. There were no roads except the one extending East and West past the old Wright school and one North and South from the canal to the Hales-Reed community. The bridge near Wright school was the only one in existence for miles around.

The years between 1849, when the “canal lands” became available and 1855, when the railroad started operation, are not well described in the research writings available. It is reasonable to assume that people were moving in and establishing farms and small businesses. After 1855, and especially after 1858 when the railroad siding was built and a depot and train station were established, progress seemed to take a more positive direction. This was probably what prompted Alpheas Buchanan to realize there was a need for some platted land so that Liberty Center could develop in a more orderly manner.

The thirty-seven years between 1863 and 1900 must have been very active for people in the community. During this time stores were built, churches were formed and buildings erected, schools were developed, streets were laid out and graded, two cemeteries were defined — Young and Wright. The railroad was doing a good business. However, travel on the canal was diminishing. In fact, the last canal boats ceased to use the canal only twelve years later in 1912.

The community was always well known for and proud of its school. The old Wright school, which sat a short mile to the West, was moved in 1877 to the Northwest corner of the school grounds. In 1886, a two-story addition was attached to the East end of the old building. Liberty schools were defined as being “graded” which must have been a unique style for the time and was known to be one of the best in the county.

The Wright school portion of the building was moved away to make room for a new building — a two-story brick building containing four rooms. It was moved to a location on East Street, just South of the Corporation line and made into a residence. It is still in use today in 2001.

The two-story portion was purchased by the G.A.R. and was moved to the corner of East and Maple Streets to about where David Perry’s gas station is now situated. It later burned down.

During this time there were four churches — The Methodist Episcopal, St. John’s German Reformed, The United Brethren and the Seventh-Day Adventist.

The first hotel was built on the main street near the depot. It later burned down. Liberty Center suffered several disastrous fires. Before the business district assumed its present form, nearly all the original structured had been destroyed by fire.

The main street North through town was opened up about 1860 along the East boundary of the Chamberlain-Woodward farms by a gathering of the interested neighbors, who cut a passage through the brush to the Rathburn neighborhood. It was years before the road was improved. About the same time, the road half a mile West was extended North from the Merriman and Chamberlain area to connect with the Hales-Clapp road. This gave a direct route South from the Hales road to the Wright school and on to the Wabash canal. This road, too, was not improved for many years later.

NOTE: this description of the roads leads me to believe that the main route South to the canal and the river was the one we now call Road 8.

About 1858, or a little later, a young doctor located in the neighborhood and built a neat little cottage not far from the sawmill. His name was Dr. Frank E. Pray who came from Norwalk soon after his graduation from medical school. He served here until he enlisted in the Army in 1862, during the Civil War. The Pennocks came in about 1860 and Ed Pennock opened a grocery store next to Dr. Pray.

About this time, there were several businesses established in the area. There was a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a cooper’s shop, grocery store, hotel, dry goods store, a carpenter’s shop, a post office, a railroad station, a grist mill, a wagon factory, a livery stable and several others.

There always seemed to be a goodly number of businesses in the town. In the time after 1920, there are a number to be remembered — a sauerkraut factory, a pickle processing plant, a grain elevator, two undertakers, a furniture maker, three automobile dealers, two hardware stores, a men’s clothing store, a millinery shop, a weekly newspaper, a shoe repair shop, a drug store, a bank, a dry goods store, a lumber yard, a road construction company, a trucking company, a hatchery, a photograper’s studio, a bakery, a tinsmith shop, five gas stations, three barber shops, a movie theatre, two saloons, two billiard parlors, four grocery stores, two restaurants, three beauty parlors, a produce buyer, an egg processing plant, a machine shop, two coal yards, two farm machinery dealers, a cider press, a sorghum syrup cookery, a tile and brick yard and probably some others.

Liberty Center, from the very start, has been a thriving community.

We have to feel that some families were well established in the area before Liberty Center came into existence. Evidently some were here as early as 1820. Probably the earliest was about 1812 to 1814. The canal building days — 1825 — 1845 brought settlers to the area. Some of the people, many of Irish descent and having worked on the Erie canal to help build the Miami-Erie canal, bought farms when the canal lands became available and stayed and made their homes here. Some of those families still reside in the area. Some on the same farms they acquired so long ago.

It is interesting to note that Calvin C. Young’s life span closely paralleled the life span of the canal. The first construction began in Cincinnati in1825 — Calvin was born in 1825. The canal went out of business after the great flood of 1913 — Calvin died in 1911.

The main street, East Street, in the business area was originally paved with brick. It was used as such until it was covered by asphalt in 1951. The North end of East Street, Maple Street and Damascus Street were graded and curbing installed even though they were paved only dirt or gravel. The founding fathers had good foresight when they left the wide right-of-way where the business district was going to be.

It is hard to imagine now, but the Wabash railroad was very busy. Even up to and after World War II there were four passenger and two freight trains each day. There were no freight trains on Sunday. Mail was picked up and dropped off four times a day. It was hauled to the post office in a two-wheeled push-cart.

At one time, there was a train called “the Four O’clock Flyer”. It didn’t stop in Liberty Center but did throw off the mail and pick up mail from a mail hook that held the bag. The train is said to have gone through town at sixty miles per hour. The line through Liberty went directly to Fort Wayne with connections to St. Louis. It was a very direct and important rail link.

The trading area of Liberty Center was probably a circle with a radius of about six miles. This was about a hour’s trip for a horse and buggy. With the advent of the automobile, this radius expanded and in doing so, reached past other trading centers which added more competition to the businesses in Liberty Center. Gradually businesses started to close their doors. The ones that remain are those that provide a convenience service to the local people. The large national chains of stores and services have taken their toll.

As we learned earlier, the school has always been a jewel and a central binding force in the community. It is still so today. It is the largest employer. Without the school, Liberty Center would become a place you passed through on your way to somewhere else.

Liberty Center has recently enjoyed a pattern of newly constructed residences that not only enhance the appearance of the town but also strengthened it by providing a larger tax base which in turn strengthens the school. The older homes and businesses have also been repaired and beautified.

Liberty Center has always been known as a pleasant place to live. It still is.

Contact Us

Our mailing address is:

The Henry County Historical Society
P.O. Box 443
Napoleon, OH 43545